GOOD OLD GAIETY."
THE SPIRIT of ^e LAM P.
Good Old Gaiety"
" Whom the Gods love die young."
PUBLISHED BY THE GAIETY THEATRE COMPANY, LTD.
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL.
-WATERI.OW AND SONS LIMITED, PRINTERS,-
A LONG CHAPTER OF HISTORY - . .1
THE FOUNDER AND THE FINDER 7
BRICKS AND MORTAR IO
THE BILL OF FARE 14
MANAGERIAL METHODS 21
THE FIRST GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PIECE 24
TAKING STOCK DISEASED ACTIVITY 28
THREE THEATRES AND A SHAKESPEARIAN PRODUCTION . . 33
A NEW COMBINATION 37
THE AMATEUR PANTOMIME 39
A DEATH, BUT NO CHANGE 44
A NEW DEPARTURE -.. . . -47
THE GAIETY GLOBE TROTTERS 53
A STORM 57
NEW MOTHS ROUND THE CANDLE 60
IN MEMORIAM . 65
THE FARREN DEMONSTRATION . 68
ADVENT OF MUSICAL COMEDY 7O
A RECORD RUN 72
MY LAST MANIFESTO 77
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,
JOHN HOLL1NGSHEAD . . . .
c. j. PHIPPS
MADGE ROBERTSON (MRS. KENDAI.)
CHARLES MATHEWS, JOHN L. TOOLE,
HENRY J. BYRON
HENRY IRVING (SIR HENRY IRVING)
GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA .
F. C. BURNAND
\V. S. GILBERT
SIR ARTHUR SULLIVAN .
JACQUES OFFENBACH .
CONSTANCE GILCHRIST (COUNTESS OF
"\VE ARE A MERRY FAMILY" (NELLIE
FARREN, KATE VAUGHAN, EDWARD
TKRRY, AND E. W. ROYCE)
W. J. FLORENCE
ALFRED CELLIER 53
2 C. HAYDEN-COFFIN 54
4 ARTHUR WILLIAMS . . . .55
5 NELLIE FARREN 56
6 FRED LESLIE 57
8 PHYLLIS BROUGHTON . . . .58
9 HARRY MONKHOUSE . . . -59
"HOUSEHOLD WORDS" OFFICE CHARLES
10 DICKENS' FIRST WORKSHOP . . 60
12 G. R. SIMS 61
14 LILLIE BELMORE 62
l6 SYLVIA GREY 63
l8 E. J. LONNEN 64
20 ARTHUR ROBERTS 65
21 WILLIE WARDE 68
22 C1SS1E LOKTUS 69
24 FLORENCE ST. JOHN . . . .70
2 c LETTY LIND 71
26 ELLAL1NE TERRISS 71
MAUD HIM 72
38 KATIE SEYMOUR 73
IVAN CARYLI 73
EDMUND PAYNE 74
4 G. GROSSM1TH, JUN. . . . -75
44 CONNIE EDISS 75
46 ETHEL SYDNEY 76
4** LIONEL MONCKTON 77
50 ROSIE BOOTE (MARCHIONESS OF HEADFORT) 77
52 ADRIAN ROSS 78
N my original partnership with my
is a Gaiety in London, the critics will
never want employment.
X his mark.
(PAGES 70 AND 76.)
Mr. Hollingshead regrets that he is in error in stating that
Mr. Edmund (printed Edward, page 76) Payne is a son
of the late Mr. Harry Payne, or a member of the Payne
In Town (page 70) read Mr. James Leader for Mr. Branscombe.
IN my original partnership with my
friend, Mr. GEORGE EDWARDES, it
was covenanted that I should do all the
writing and speech-making. In preparing
this booklet at once a record and an
epitaph I am keeping to my bargain,
although I never expected to live to record
the peaceful death of the " Greatest Variety
Theatre on Earth." I finish with the
sincere hope that its big brother across
the road the New Gaiety will uphold
the honour of the family. While there
is a Gaiety in London, the critics will
never want employment.
X his mark.
"Good Old Gaiety.
A LONG CHAPTER OF HISTORY.
HE labour of writing this little booklet in memory of a
playhouse whose matinees and nights are condemned to
death by the inexorable law of " London improvements,"
would have been as melancholy a task as the drawing
up of a last dying speech and confession or an elaborate
epitaph on an old friend, especially to the present writer,
without the knowledge that while we say " The Gaiety is
dead ; " we can also add, " Long may the Gaiety live." There is no occasion
to select a stone from the ruins created by the sacrificial pick-axe, and muse
over it like a Clare Market Hamlet in the " Alas ! Poor Yorick ! " vein, when
the apostolic succession of the house and its policy the policy of serving
the public with what it wants, and not with what a Government Education
Act thinks it ought to have is assured by the creating of a New and
Improved Temple of Go-as-you-please-Drama within view of the old
site, and at the most prominent corner of new-born Central London.
" Whom the Gods love die young." The old Gaiety has had a short
life for a leading London Theatre, but it has done its best to make that
life a merry one. The lamps it lighted, " sacred " or electric, were never
hidden under a bushel, and never will be.
" There goes the old, here comes the new :
Regard it a familiar face-"
It is pleasant to say " ditto " to Lord Tennyson.
The site of the Gaiety Theatre a playhouse that I can take liberties
with and will therefore call the " dear departed " was not the offspring of a
" fluke." The fluke enters very largely into theatrical affairs, but not in
this case. A capitalist, taking his Johnsonian walk up or down Fleet street, was
not inspired to say, " Halloo ! here's a site ; let us build a theatre ! " The
dear departed, whatever its faults and merits may have been, was the be-all
and end-all of a deep design. It was an aggregation of properties quietly
acquired by a gentleman with brains and money, who was quite able to
manage his own affairs, without seeking wisdom (and not often finding it)
in a multitude of counsels. He was supposed to have an ambition to pose as
a music-hall proprietor, the fact having leaked out (the tank that holds facts
is always very leaky), that he had purchased the " Strand Mustek Hall," as
it was rather affectedly called. This hall, the only one so far east on the
road to Temple Bar, was started by Mr. Syers, a gentleman of education
and enterprise, who had been a merchant in the City in a large way of business.
The hall gave itself superior airs. It was inoculated with a disease known
at that time about forty years ago as the " March of Intellect." Its
architecture was a museum of " samples " ; its decoration was scrofulous ; its
programmes had an educational taint, and it came to the Strand-end of
Catherine street, just as that once riotous thoroughfare began to lose its
popularity as the Haymarket of Central London. Still it was the heart of
a theatrical market, which hardly exists at present. It was surrounded by old
taverns like " Simpson's," the " Edinburgh Castle," and the " Albion " the
latter the homely dining-place of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and half
the blend of literature and journalism in the 'fifties and 'sixties. The " Caves
of Harmony " the Coal Hole, the Cyder Cellars, and Paddy Green's (better
known as "Evans's ") were near; the Lyceum was struggling under many lessee-
ships, some of them distinguished and all of them interesting ; the Strand
Theatre, having given up its position of jackal to the Insolvent Debtors
Court, was nourishing the genius of Marie Wilton, under the Swanboroughs ;
the Olympic was still the " little Olympic " a house with a history. Drury
Lane was playing Milton's Comus to twelve pounds a night, as it afterwards
played Hamlet (in Italian) to ten pounds (the wrong thing in the right place)
the manager trying to make a round peg fill a square hole. The Adelphi was
revelling in Toole, old farce (writ large) and melodrama, soon to be housing
Colleen Bawns and Jefferson ; and Covent Garden was doing nearly everything
it was not intended to do under the Davenant Patent of Charles II.
For all this " market " the " Strand Musick Hall " was not a commercial
success, and it went into liquidation. Mr. Lionel Lawson, chief proprietor of
the Daily Telegraph, and therefore essentially a "gentleman of the press,"
acquired it. He also silently acquired various shops, coffee-houses and
tenements that fringed the block framed by the Strand, Wellington street,
Catherine street, and Exeter street. These included in the latter street
an old tavern called " The Fountain," well-known to old pressmen, like the
late Doctor Richardson, of the Times, who was a two-bottle man (port for
choice) but with no objection to other liquors who was a second edition
of the celebrated Person.
"The Fountain," if its sign had been altered to that of the " Rat and
Cockroach," could easily have played up to it. Its century-old smell of stale
tobacco ; its half-suppressed kitchen odours in which grilled steaks, chops,
and boiled cabbage predominated ; its heavy dust-laden carpets which
frightened no one, as the schools (National or Board ?) had not then taught
the natural history of microbes and bacilli. " The Fountain " was not alone in
London. It had "Clunn's " in Covent Garden, the "Crown and Anchor" in
the Strand, the " Sabloniere " in Leicester square, the "London Coffee
House " on Ludgate hill, the " Blue Posts " in Cork street, Burlington gardens,
and the Gray's Inn Coffee House in Holborn, where creditors could drown
their financial sorrows in the " flowing bowl."
On the south side of the block the Strand side the Hermit Pioneer
of periodical literature was quietly bought out or in, and the wondering
Limbird with his weekly Mirror The Mirror ceased to look over his
green window curtain at the busy world pushing each other off the pavement
before his door and disappeared as one whom the paper duties had preserved
from competition. He had held up the Mirror to nature and the public a
rather neglectful public and, in fairness, he should not be altogether forgotten.
The rising periodical literature of the day, and its professors who
moved from place to place, with little lumber to hamper their movements,
except the traditions and habits of Grub street, had seized upon a bankrupt
Arcadia called Exeter arcade full of little shops that sold nothing to
nobody, with the printed words, " To Let," in every dusty window. It was
young and new, and had not put on the mark of hopeless and shabby
insolvency. Here literary Bohemia of forty years ago and more " squatted "
there is no other term and succeeded in getting a few " backers " printers
who thought they might " strike " a catchpenny reef of periodical wealth,
and publishers who inserted poetry and paid for it, after measuring with the
inches of a two-foot rule. The writers, when they were not frying sprats in
the back-parlours, were " publishing " these fly-sheets across the counters, and
when the day's work was over they often slept under these counters with
( 3 )
bundles of " back-numbers " for pillows, as many a real industrious apprentice
has done before them. Poor fellows ! many of them earned a character for
dissipation far too easily. A weak constitution and slender food have much
to answer for. This new Grub street, elevated to the dignity of an arcade,
together with the watch-tower chambers at its Wellington street end, where
" Johnny " Toole at that time was in residence, were part of the Lawsonian
purchase. The arcade had never been "dedicated to the public" by its
owner, the Marquis of Exeter, and therefore no Act, parliamentary or local,
was necessary to close it at the required moment.
The site having been thus patiently acquired with mole-like quietude,
the work of carrying out the Gaiety design emerged to a certain degree from
underground. The late Mr. J. C. Phipps appeared occasionally without a
mask and a dark lantern ; Mr. Lionel Lawson was less reticent and oracular ;
and the builder, Mr. Simpson, and his clerk of the works, Mr. Tasker, were
appointed. This was at the close of 1867. I heard of the scheme from Mr. Dion
Boucicault, which was important and eventful at that day, when a new theatre
was as rare as Christian charity, and was looked upon as an almost impious
attempt to widen the area of theatrical enterprise. The Lord Chamberlain,
then Earl Sydney, under the pressure of the Select Parliamentary Committee
of 1866, had only just surrendered his guiding principle, that the supply of
playhouses should be regulated, in a great degree, by the real or supposed
wants of a particular neighbourhood, and no distinction appeared to be made
between the Strand the thoroughfare of the world and any back street in
Soho or the Seven Dials. The completed site of the Gaiety had been well-
manured with theatrical guano. It was there exactly, where the condemned
Gaiety now stands to become the " dear departed " in a few weeks, that a
large building stood, called the Lyceum, erected as far back as 1765, by Mr.
James Payne, a fairly well-known architect of the period. It seems to have
been a cross between the Polytechnic Institution, the Old Adelaide Gallery,
the " Hall of Rome," and Madame Tussaud's, and housed amongst many things
during its varied and half-licensed career, the exhibitions of a certain " Society
of Artists " which were, no doubt, the origin of the Royal Academy, before it
moved to Somerset House opposite, on its road to Piccadilly. This place was
under the administration of the celebrated Dr. Arnold, who extended the
building toward Exeter street in 1794. It was still condemned to exist as
what the Americans call a " Museum " another name often for a Dime Show,
generally opened in an empty shop with a fat woman, a Hottentot Venus or
a porcupine man. Amongst the Lyceum attractions -(Lyceum No. i) were
the " Musical Glasses," immortalised by Oliver Goldsmith in the Vicar of
( 4 )
" PROSPERITY "
Wakefield. It was left for Mr. S. J. Arnold, son of Dr. Arnold, to obtain a
modified Lord Chamberlain's license, as distinguished from the magistrates'
Georgian permit, and the liberty to call his Lyceum an English Opera
House. This led to more rebuilding, under Mr. Samuel Beazley, a more
distinguished architect, and it was opened on the I5th of June, 1816. It was
still devoted to "variety" business, in the intervals of more pretentious
performances, occasionally permitted by the Dogs-in-the-Manger of Drury
Lane and Co vent Garden, under protest. It is no exaggeration to say that
its operations often covered the recreations of Exeter Hall and the " Fives
Court," and that it was equally ready to welcome an oratorio or a prize fight.
It tried the experiment of "two houses a night" towards the end of 1817.
The time came at last for the first Lyceum and English Opera House
to be destroyed, not by the London County Council of its day, but by what
the eloquent newspaper reporters called "the devouring element." The
fire occurred (to be exact) on Feb. 26th, 1830. The theatre, said to have
cost ,80,000, and much adjoining property, was burnt, and the proprietor-
manager, Mr. Arnold, was said not to have been insured. This was real
The Lyceum (No. 2) the present paralysed Lyceum, that will exist for
ever in theatrical history on the strength of the Henry Irving record was
not rebuilt for four years, the delay arising from certain extensive public
alterations in the Strand, involving the planning of North Wellington street
(and hill), the clearance of Cross's projecting menagerie and Exeter change
(the latter often confounded with Bohemia's Exeter arcade), the construction
of Burleigh street, and the widening of Disraeli's favourite thoroughfare.
The present Lyceum (what is left of it) was placed on the west side of
the North Wellington street slope the continuation of Waterloo Bridge,
then charging a penny toll for suicide and South Wellington street. A
curvilinear inclined plane was thus dedicated to the heavy market traffic.
The Thames Valley levels and the local authorities of 1830 have certainly
much to answer for. After the four years' delay the second Lyceum was at
last opened with a triple bill, July Hth, 1834.
" Variety " was still the order of the night. Light and low comedians
sang comic, or alleged comic, songs, between the pieces. This duty was in
their agreement, the same as the clause confining the actor to residence
within one mile of his workshop the play-house. Supper was not then a meal
forbidden by Act of Parliament, and eating against time was not made one
of the few things legal at night, and the infallible mark of a good citizen.
Indigestion was not then the pet of the State and the licensing authorities.
( 5 )
With part of the site of the first Lyceum cleared by fire, and not
absorbed by the various shops and tenements round the block, it was not
surprising that, in the fulness of time, a " Variety Theatre " should make its
appearance, where the " English Opera House" once stood, bearing the title
of the " Strand Mustek Hall." The only wonder is that such an establish-
ment for the supply of amusement " snacks " should have waited something
like thirty years before it had courage to face the public. We have more
daring at the present hour call it foolhardy, if you will. A variety theatre
is built and opened every three months sometimes called a Palace
sometimes an Empire and no suburb, or extreme point, of London is left
unserved, or not served brilliantly, by these Temples of Light and Leading.
Poor Edmund Kean was born a little before his time. Instead of tramping
hungry and footsore over the bleak hills between Exeter and Dorchester, he
could have ridden in a hired brougham between Drury Lane and Balham,
and between Balham and Peckham Rye, playing an act of Shylock as an
after-piece, taking half the gross receipts for his services and "drawing power."
The " Strand Mnsick Hall " may have been a little behind its time in
creation, but it was certainly a good deal behind its time in management. It
tried to be "superior"; it was tainted with educational longings. As a
building it never comprised much of the Gaiety Theatre. Where the
" Mtisick " Hall ended, the Gaiety Theatre began. The theatre was practically
built on the clearance of Exeter arcade and Exeter street.
THE FOUNDER AND THE FINDER.
O manager of a popular London theatre probably ever
began business under more eccentric conditions than I
did. The building, as a building, was designed, its
position chosen, its plan mapped out, its leading idea
(as a building) had been decided upon, its title had been
selected, its architect and decorators had been com-
missioned all this, and more had been effected, before
I came upon the scene. I met Mr. Lionel Lawson in the street by
I said to him, " I hear you're building a theatre? "
" Quite true."
" I should like to take it."
" All right. Got any money ? "
" Not much, about two hundred pounds."
" No matter, you can get more."
The lease was settled without more words. I then learnt the size and
name of the Theatre. Its design had been copied, on a reduced scale, from
the Theatre Lyrique in Paris now Sarah Bernhardt's Theatre with a
dress-circle in front of a semi-circle of private boxes. The leading idea
of the building was a dual structure a restaurant attached to a theatre, and
a theatre attached to a restaurant. This enabled visitors to dine and walk
into the theatre without going into the street, or to leave the theatre and pass
direct into the supper-rooms. This could be done in 1868, and we did it ; in
( 7 )
1 872 it became illegal. The arches of communication had to be bricked up
with a two-foot brick-wall, and the Siamese Twins were doomed to enforced
separation on a legal technicality. Whatever public safety may exist in broad
openings was destroyed by this Act, much to the concern of the then Lord
Chamberlain. I increased the difficulty, by disclaiming all responsibility for
accidents from panic in face of these official barriers, and Sir William
Harcourt, then Home Secretary, was worried into a non possumus
utterance. As for myself, my manners were usually framed upon Lord
Chesterfie'ld, an affable gentleman, but my language was sometimes not more
polite than that of Junius. I often shocked my good landlord, who always
loyally stood by me in every emergency.
The Gaiety building progressed rapidly, as there was plenty of money
to work with, and I found myself in the position of " sole lessee and
manager " ! What had been my apprenticeship ? A " gallery boy," a
frequenter of those nurseries of talent the " Saloon Theatres " a dramatic
critic for about six years of the Daily News, the Leader, Punch, and other
journals, a small dramatic author, and a three years' experience as stage
director of the Alhambra, in Leicester square. What was my age ? Forty-one
a pretty time of life to go into what was practically to me a new business.
If I had been in the Civil Service, my chiefs would have been seriously thinking
whether I ought not to apply for the official " two-thirds " retiring pension.
To have been a journalist was, in England, little or no recommendation. It
was always a stepping-stone in Paris, but never in London.
What was the title of my theatre? "The Gaiety." This at once
stamped it as a " place of amusement." I could embellish amusement
as much as I liked. I could flavour occasionally with High Art Sauce, but
though an old literary colleague of Charles Dickens, William Makepeace
Thackeray, and Dr. Norman Macleod, I had to steer clear of the rocks
of literature, properly so-called. I steered instinctively, I took a middle
course. I strove to fluke with dignity. I saw everybody. I looked at
everything. I even answered letters. I was most accessible from ten to six,
with no luncheon hour. After that I was everywhere and anywhere at any
theatre or music-hall except at the Gaiety.
I had secured my priceless burlesque boy, my equally priceless chamber-
maid, in the person of Miss Ellen Farren. The first " leading man " I inter-
viewed was Mr. Alfred Wigan. As an actor I had known him for years, but as
a gentleman (and he was a gentleman and a scholar) I met him almost for
the first time. I was surprised at one thing. Though a man of education,
a gentleman in thought, and by training, he had not been armour-proof to one
MADGH KOl'.LKTSON (MRS. KtNDAl.)
defect of the theatrical profession. He believed in annual "benefits." Once
a year, he thought, there was no disgrace in sending round the hat. It never
seemed to have struck him that, in doing this, he was trying to saddle his
friends and the public with a duty that really belonged to his employer,
for the time being the necessary manager. The artistic labourer was
worthy of his hire, but this hire had already been deposited at the box office.
The benefit system was a survival of the old, so-called, " palmy days " of the
drama, when two houses claimed and held a monopoly in the higher drama
Protection masquerading as Education when actors had an artificially
limited market for their talent; when the divine law of supply and demand
was openly violated, and a profession with infinite possibilities was degraded
by coarse familiarity on one side, and insolent patronage on the other. I
tilted at the benefit windmill, as I was quixotic enough to do, and it ended
in my commuting the privilege of sending round the hat by paying Mr.
Alfred VVigan an extra five pounds a week during his engagement.
My " leading lady " soon came when I had found my leading man, and
Miss Madge Robertson, on her road to become Mrs. W. H. Kendal, added
another corner-stone to the rapidly-rising mansion. When I wheeled my
office desk and chair into the one room of the old Strand Musick Hall, which,
in course of demolition and adaptation, threatened to do me no more harm
than choking me with brickdust, I was on the Strand frontage, and was
attached to many buildings that made me feel less like a squatter in a new
country. At the south-west corner was the office of the Morning Post, a
paper for which I had acted as Special Commissioner during the terrible famine
year of 1861, in which at least three thousand wretched people, mostly dock
labourers and their families, died of absolute starvation. My friend Toole,
for whom I wrote a farce for the Lyceum Theatre opposite, was expelled from
his Watch Tower Chambers by the sacrificial pickaxe, but the corner house
next door, which was not incorporated with the theatre until many years
after, was originally the office of Household Words, where I first met
Charles Dickens, and joined his staff ten years before the Gaiety Theatre
arose to give me another employment. On the east side of the block, in
Catherine street, Strand, was the Illustrated Times Office, a paper long since
dead, but conducted most ably by the elder Mr. Vizetelly the head of a
family as talented as the Mayhews. This was another of my journals, for
which I worked, looking at the late " Bill " Tinsley, one of my publishers,
opposite. The evicted Bohemians of the vanishing Arcade 1 still held
communion with, some time after we had founded the Savage Club in the
days of its penniless simplicity.
( 9 )
BRICKS AND MORTAR.
HE building of the "dear departed" was, of course, not
altogether free from the difficulties attending the creation
of a large theatre and restaurant combined at the sides
of great thoroughfares. The levels kept the site free
from the irruption of water, even in sinking a twenty-foot
cellar, but we were not free from the " ancient light "
difficulty, if we escaped the evil of more ancient cesspools.
The "ancient light" question cropped up at a critical period of the construction
in connexion with the back part of the premises of the Morning Post which
almost adjoined the theatre property on the west side. The relations
between Lord Glenesk (then Mr. Algernon Borthwick) and Mr. Lionel
Lavvson were of a friendly kind, but business is business, and " ancient
lights," before now, have been known to part father and son, and to breed
a feud as violent as a Corsican vendetta. It came to this, that a block
of theatre offices on one side of an intervening ventilating shaft of a yard
could not be raised without a little encroachment on the light of a block of
newspaper offices on the other side. The process of adjustment by law was
too slow to satisfy anybody interested in raising the Gaiety, and it was
quietly decided to build the obstruction in dispute first, and to argue the
question of its obstructiveness afterwards. The time selected for this
Aladdin-like operation was Saturday all day and night from an early hour
and a great portion of Sunday. This time covered the hours when editors,
JOHN L. TOOLE
managers, and servants of the newspaper were anywhere except in Welling-
ton street, and as bricks, stones, timbers, girders, mortar, cement, window-
sashes, planks, and every material required were ready to place in position,
the drilled workmen began and finished the job, and a good meal afterward,
without observation or disturbance. When the ruling powers of the journal
came on Sunday afternoon to prepare their Monday's issue, they saw that the
obstruction had been raised like a set scene on the stage, and they
thought what they thought, but said little. They retired to their journalistic
labours to take part in the government of the universe. An amicable
settlement was arrived at.
As the theatre progressed, the preparations for the opening night pro-
gressed with it. An operetta, a romantic comedy-drama, and a burlesque
had been selected by me, and this triple bill demanded attention spread over
many places. The boots were made at one shop, the dresses at several shops,
the scenery was painted at a studio off Drury lane, the properties were made
at another workshop, the operetta was rehearsed in one room not far from
Leicester square, the choruses were rehearsed at another, the comedy-drama
was " run through " in a drawing-room, the ballet danced themselves into the
required figures at " Evans's " singing rooms in Covent garden, then under
the direction of clear, old, full-blooded Paddy Green, the band rehearsed at
Covent Garden Theatre, the pantomimists at the Alhambra, and the burlesqy.e
was put together at Astley's. I lived more than half the day in a hansom
cab. The pieces of this Chinese puzzle came together for the first time about
three o'clock on the afternoon of the day of opening ; the junior acting-
manager was in hysterics from overwork and nervous excitement, and the
stage-manager felt very much hurt that he could not have the royal ante-room
for a stage office.
About a fortnight before the theatre was due to open an event that I
had backed to "come off" with several friends connected with public works
and railways the painting-room of Messrs. Grieve and Son off Drury lane
was burnt down, and with it went the bulk of the finished scenery for the
three Gaiety pieces. A floor cloth factory had to be hired at Camberwell,
and being in a bleak position, this structure rolled about like an air-ship just
inflated. The scenery had to be painted again, and it was re-painted.
At last the important day arrived, Monday, December 21, 1868. The
opening programme cannot be better and more briefly stated than in the
following newspaper advertisement. The shilling a line, more or less,
charged by newspaper managers for advertisements, is the best teacher of
condensed statement, and direct English, of any educational process.
TMTE GAIETY THEATRE, STRAND.
- 1 - (Designed by C. J. PHIPPS, Esq., F.S.A. ; Decorated by
GEORGE GORDON, Esq. ; Stage and Machinery by Mr.
TASKER; Contractor, Mr. SIMPSON.) Will be OPENED on
MONDAY, December, 21, 1868, under the sole Lesseeship and
Management of Mr. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD.
The Theatre, containing upwards of 1,500 seats, has been,
built with every regard for the public convenience and safety,
and has been decorated and furnished in the most costly and
artistic style. All box, booking, and other fees will (with the
necessary assistance of the public) be thoroughly abolished,
and the performances will always conclude at a reasonable
The Company consists of
Mr. Alfred Wigan.
Miss Madge Robertson.
M. Stuart (from the Odeon,
Gaiete, and Porte St. Martin
Miss E. Farren
Mr. C. Lyall (from Her
Miss Constance Loseby.
Mr. Robert Soutar (Stage
Miss E. Fowler.
Miss Maude Elliott.
Miss A. Tremaine.
Miss Lilian Hastings.
Mr. R, Barker.
Mr. Joseph Robins.
Mr. R. Teesdale.
Mr. J. Reeves.
Miss A. Lister.
Miss L. Henrie.
The BALLET will be principally selected from the Royal
Principal Dancer Mdlle. Bossi
(From the Porte St. Martin Theatre, Paris ; and the Opera
House of Rio de Janeiro).
Principal Grotesque Dancers and Pantomimists :
Mr. John Dauljan and Mr. John Warde.
The CHORUS will be selected from the two chief Opera
Houses, and the Vocal Music will be under the direction of
Mr. J. PITTMAN.
The ORCHESTRA will be most full and efficient, under the
direction of M. KETTENUS (from Her Majesty's Opera).
The SCKNERY will be painted by and under the direction of
Messrs. T. GRIEVE and SON. And the Elaborate Costumes
have Ijeen designed by ALFRED THOMPSON, Esq. The Act
Drop painted by GEORGE GORDON, Esq.; and the Pros-
cenium Fresco by H. S. MARKS, Esq., R.A.
The Lobbies supplied with Scented Fountains by RIMMEL.
The Opening Pieces will Ije THE TWO HARLEQUINS, an
Oi>eretta in One Act, by M. E. JONAS (the English words by
G. A'BECKETT, Esq.). The principal parts in which will be
sustained by Mr. C. Lyall and Miss Constance Loseby.
"ON THE CARDS,"
A Comedy-Drama in Three Acts (adapted from "L'Escamo-
teur") by' ALFRED THOMPSON; in which Mr. Alfred Wigan,
M. Stuart, Miss Madge Robertson, and Miss E. Farren, will
represent the chief characters.
"ROBERT LE DIABLE," '
An original Operatic Extravaganza, by W. S. Gilbert, Esq.,
which will be supported by the whole Comic, Vocal, and
Pantomimic strength of the Company.
The Burlesque will include Two Ballets.
Doors open at 6.30 ; Performances to commence punctually
at 7. Box Office open from 10 to 5. No Booking or other Fees.
Prices : Orchestra Stalls, 7s.; Balcony Stalls, .5s.; Private
Boxes, '1 11s. 6d. and 2 2s.; Upper Boxes, 4s.; Pit, 2s.; Gal-
Grand entrance to Stalls and Boxes in the Strand ; Pit and
Gallery entrances in Catherine street ; Royal entrance in
Exeter-street, and Stage'entrance in Wellington-street.
Places may always be secured at Mitchell's, Chappell's,
Lacon & Ollier's, and Bubb's, and the chief Libraries.
. NOTE. The Saloons will be opened on the same night
'December 21, 1868), and will communicate with the Theatre
on every level. The extensive Cafe and Restaurant attached
to the Theatre w ill be opened in a few weeks.
M. Kettenus went back to the Italian Opera in March, and Herr Meyer
Liitz began his connexion with the Gaiety Theatre which lasted over a full
The system of advertisement avoided bills and posters, and confined
itself to newspaper announcements and paragraphs. Anything "sensational"
was pressed into the service of publicity, and a flash-light was installed on
the roof, with the largest voltaic battery then attainable. It played upon the
church of St. Mary-le-Strand at one moment, and Charing Cross terminus
the next. It was discontinued, having served its purpose, before it frightened
the horses, and caused damage to life and property.
All the advertisements never omitted the statement that the Gaiety
Theatre was in the Strand, as a playhouse that does not fix its own locality
in its title, must have that locality fixed for it. Cabmen were not neglected,
and were educated to know where the theatre with the French name stood,
by being the first thought of by the dispensers of managerial favours. The
title never gave them so much trouble as the neighbouring Vaudeville, when
it came into existence as a rival. That name was immediately shortened
into the " War-Devil."
THE BILL OF FARE.
HE theatre opened without any low comedian of command-
ing popularity a comedian with a name though it had
plenty of comic talent, but Miss E. Farren (generally called
"Nelly" Farren), who was in private life Mrs. Robert
Soutar, was a host in herself. "Cheeky" in tone and
manner, without the slightest tinge of offensive vulgarity,
she was the brightest boy-girl or girl-boy that ever graced the stage
since the greatest of stage-managers, Sir William Davenant, blessed that
institution with Nature's born comedians women. She opened the Gaiety
in 1868, she remained with me for eighteen years, and she continued
with my successor, Mr. George Edwardes. Her apprenticeship was passed
at the Victoria (the " Vic.") and the old Olympic, as mine was passed
at the Alhambra ; probably no actress, unconnected by family ties with
the place where her fame and popularity were nourished, ever continued
so long a time in one theatre, and largely under one management. A
spinal complaint, which troubled her in her early Gaiety career, developed
into locomotor ataxy on a voyage back from Australia. The substantial
gratitude and esteem of her many friends was strikingly shown a few years
HENRY J. BYROX
ago, and her partially restored health enables her to enjoy occasionally
the acting of others, if it does not allow her to act herself.
The policy of the Gaiety at this time was not to whip a crawling piece
into a poor imitation of a run, but to consign it to the Hospital for Dramatic
Incurables, often without an obituary notice. " One down and the other
come on " was the motto that guided managerial action. Mistakes may have
been made by this diseased activity, but no matter. The Gaiety, with all its
reputation for frivolity, was more like a factory than a theatre. Some people
compared it to a treadmill. It was a source of profit to the Lord Chamber-
lain's Reader of Plays, whose chief income is drawn from fees charged for
performing this duty.
A change of programme took place in March, the Anglo-French drama,
On the Cards, being replaced by a five-act drama, by Tom Robertson then
the most popular author of the day called Dreams. It was ushered in with
an operetta, and bowed out by the Gilbertian burlesque of Robert the Dei'tl.
Playgoers at the Gaiety, in 1869, could not complain that the management
gave them hardly enough for their money! Tom Robertson's sister, Miss
Madge Robertson, who had just attained her majority, and was free from her
father's leading strings, as she told me, did her brother good service, but the
chief drawback was Mr. Alfred Wigan, a superb character actor, no longer
young, insisting upon playing a dual part (quite within his right, but beyond his
power), one of the parts being a young romantic lover. John Clayton, though
not by any means an ideal lover, would have suited the young part better,
leaving the elder part to Mr. Wigan. This was not to be done at the time,
but later on in the year, when the piece was revived, Mr. Henry Neville was
placed in the young part, and Mr. Sam Emery in the old part. Other minor
alterations were made, and the piece had a renewed life, and was sold for
touring in the country a business which was then in its infancy. Tom
Robertson wrote from Italy to thank me.
At Whitsuntide, as Robert the Devil seemed to flag a little, a
spectacular extravaganza called Columbus, written and arranged by Alfred
Thompson, who was an " Admirable Crichton " in his way, and of immense
service to me in giving an artistic tone to the theatre. His combinations of
colour amounted to genius, though his forms may have been a little ultra-
French and extravagant. This he got from his French and German training.
( . 5 ) c 2
Columbus was more like a French Parisian fterie than anything that had been
seen on the London stage since the Lyceum days of Madame Vestris,
when Planche was the stock author, assisted by the brilliant and invaluable
Charles Mathews, and Beverley invented what is now called the " transfor-
mation scene," to dazzle and amuse the British public.
In 1869 Mr. W. S. Gilbert made his first appearance as a writer of
comedy, with a three-act piece called An Old Score. It had one great and
only fault : it was " too clever by half." It was too true to nature dis-
agreeable nature. It was not served up with enough make-believe sauce.
Playgoers have a sneaking kindness for humbugs Tartuffes, Mawworms,
Sleeks, and all the tribe. An Old Score flew in the face of their sym-
pathies, and, as John Oxenford said in the Times, "the work was too
genuine a comedy to suit the taste of the age."
An intermediary burlesque by Alfred Thompson on the operatic subject of
Linda of CJiamouni paved the way for a romantic drama, called A Life Chase,
in which Miss Adelaide Neilson joined the company. The burlesque became
such a favourite with the Prince of Wales (our present King), that on one
occasion he " commanded " a special performance of the trifle as part of the
programme. Mr. Alfred Wigan again appeared in a young romantic part,
which would have been better placed in the hands of John Clayton, and the
piece suffered in consequence. In all these changes the triple bill was
maintained, operetta, drama or comedy, and burlesque. This was only
changed when a quadruple bill was given, an operetta playing the people in,
and another operetta playing the people out.
On December the I3th, 1869, Mr. J. L. Toole commenced an engage-
ment at the Gaiety, which, though intermittent in character, owing to
country contracts, extended over several years. He brought with him from
the country a three-act drama by Henry J. Byron, called Uncle Dick's
Darling. In its production at the Gaiety the mechanism of a trans-
formation scene, usually confined to extravaganzas and pantomimes, was
applied to drama. The effect, well repaid the expense and trouble. No
low comedian, posing more or less as a "star," could complain of the way
in which he was supported, as the following programme will abundantly
( 16 )
MR. HENRY IRVING (SIR HKNRY IRVING)
ZTbe (Batetip programme.
Sole lessee and Manager - - MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAI).
Stage Manager Mr. ROIiERT SOUTAR.
Assistant Acting Manager Mr. W. H. GRIFFITHS.
Musical Director Herr MEYER LUTZ.
Commence at Seven o'clock with Offenbach's Operetta of
THE ROSE OF AUVERGNE!
Miss TREMAINE, MR. C. LYALL, MR. PERRINI.
At 7-45, a New Drama, by Mr. H. J. Byron,
UNCLE DICK'S DARLING
Dick Dolland (a Cheap Jack) MR. J. L. TOOI.E.
Mr. Chevenix MR. HENRY IRVING.
Hon. Claude Lorrimor ... MR. H. R. TKESDAI.E.
Joe Leonard (a Blacksmith) MR. J. CLAYTON.
Mrs. Torrington Miss MARIA ELSWORTHY.
Alice Renshaw Miss LITTON.
Kate Landrail Miss L. HENRIE
A Servant Miss A. HERBERT.
Mary Belton ... Miss NEII.SON.
At 9-30, a New Operatic Extravaganza,
"W".A_T TYLIEIR,, IMI.DP.
By Mr. George Augustus Sala.
Richard II. King of England Miss R. Coo H LAN.
Queen ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. Miss LITTON.
Henry Plantagenet, alias Reginald Beaumanners ... ... ... ... Miss E. FARREN.
Sir William Walworth MR. J. MACLEAN.
Walworth Road (his Son) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Miss L. HENRIE.
Duke Humphrey ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... MR. N. MARLOWE.
Lord Epsom of Salisbury Miss R. WILSON.
Garter King at Arms Miss A. HERBERT.
Wat Tyler MR. J. L. TOOLE.
Mrs. Tyler MRS. HENRY LEIGH.
Ellen Tyler Miss CONSTANCE LOSEBY.
Jack Straw MR. PERRINI.
Lucy Straw Miss TREMAINE.
Scene 1. A TOWN IN ESSEX.
Scene 2. TYLER'S 'UMBLE 'OME.
BALLET OF FOOLS.
Scene 3. KING RICHARD'S COURT AT BAYNARD S CASTLE.
Scene 4. THE LITTLE EASE IN THE TOWER.
Scene 5. OLD HOLBORN BRIDGE AND SNOW HILL.
( I? )
The Gaiety Theatre was the last theatre Charles Dickens visited, and
Uncle Dick's Darling was the last piece he ever saw. He also saw in the piece
traces of Dr. Marigold's Prescription, and in Mr. Chevenix a reflection of
Mr. Dombey. He had little doubt about the future of the actor Henry
Mr. Sala's extravaganza (his first attempt at this kind of work) was
produced on the first anniversary of the opening of the theatre.
The distinguished author was well treated by the management, and
John Oxenford said in the Times that the mounting of the piece was
worthy of the best days of Charles Kean at the Princess's Theatre.
This advertisement was issued: "With the exception of Christmas Day,
Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday, this house a rare thing in London
has been open every night for a whole year with one unbroken form
of entertainment. That entertainment, consisting of operetta, drama, and
operatic extravaganza, has been copied by several metropolitan theatres.
It is a fact, which may be taken for what it is worth, that the Gaiety has
given constant employment to nearly 300 members of the dramatic
profession. Though the management never pledged itself to patronise the
so-called British drama, the British drama has fared very well at the Gaiety.
Out of five plays produced, three have been of English growth, viz., Dreams,
by T. Robertson ; An Old Score, by W. S. Gilbert ; and Uncle Dick's Darling,
by H. J. Byron ; the other two were avowed adaptations. The extravaganzas,
as usual, have been English, and the author of two of them, Mr. Alfred
Thompson, is a gentleman who made his first appearance as a dramatic author
at the Gaiety. To-night, another gentleman, Mr. .George Augustus Sala, will
appeal to you for the first time in a similar capacity. Those who have
watched the pieces at this theatre will admit that much has been done by the
management to raise the artistic standard of stage costume. The comfort of
the public has been carefully studied in the front of the house, and the result
has been an amount of patronage very satisfactory in the past, and very
encouraging for the future."
Though the claim of the Gaiety burlesques of this early period was
often urged and not often disputed, the production of Offenbach's Princess
of Trebizonde in its entirety, stamped the Greatest Variety Theatre in
England, for the time being, as an opera-bouffe house. Neither Mr. J. L.
Toole, nor Miss "Nelly" Farren, could be called "singers," even in the
most elastic English, but they were quite good enough to satisfy the
composer, with all his musical skill and experience. He liked people who
could "make something" of his characters, or whom he could pick up and
( 18 )
make " something of." When he came over to see his piece, he passed
many evenings at the music halls, and saw considerable possibilities in
two drolls named Brian and Conolly. He was simple and anti-Parisian
in his habits and tastes, and dined nightly at " Simpson's " in the Strand,
being satisfied with a slice of roast mutton and a boiled potato.
The Princess of Trebizonde was bright and tuneful, with the grace
and melody of Auber, and an amusing and unoffending book, rendered
into fairly good English by Charles Lamb Kenney, the son of the great
adapter. It had one fault, and this not a little one. It was ten years
before its time. The public wanted educating up to this form of entertain-
ment, and their schoolmasters, the musical critics, were too busy quarrelling
amongst themselves, to educate them.
With a musical equipment, such as the Gaiety possessed, a season of
opera in English was not difficult to arrange, and the command of Miss
Julia Matthews, who had just returned from a country tour, enabled us
to vary " English opera " with Anglo-French opera-bouffe. Miss Matthews
was the best all-round performer of Offenbach's chief works available in
England. The engagement of Madame Florence Lancia and Mr. W. H.
Cummings (now the principal of the Guildhall College of Music) strengthened
the company for comic opera of the French school. Offenbach's Barbe
Bleue the entire work was produced in four days no man but Meyer Lutz
could have done it the tenor having to be changed on the second day,
and another tenor sought for and engaged. Fortunately we found Mr.
Beverley, who if not a Dupuis, was a good average singer. The various
works given at this period were infinite in their variety, and they led up
to the return of Mr. Charles Santley to the stage, and the production of
Herold's Zampa, the first time it had been heard in England. After Zampa
came this difficulty with Santley What opera next? Operas, as a rule,
are written for tenors, not baritones, and after much consultation and many
futile suggestions, the great and popular singer plumped for Fra Diavolo.
The character suited his acting, and was far more interesting than Zampa,
but much of his music had to be transposed notably the world-wide cele-
brated serenad6, " Young Agnes." Fra Diavolo closed Mr. Santley's first
engagement at the Gaiety, and it was settled that he was to return at the
following Easter, when an English version of the German opera, called
Czar and Zimmerman, was to be prepared for him. Its English title was
to be Peter the Shipwright.
Mr. J. L. Toole came back at Christmas, and arrangements were made
for an original opera-bouffe, the music by Herve, called Aladdin the Second.
It was the first piece placed upon the English stage in the Japanese style,
a style just then (1870) becoming popular in Paris. The "book" was by
Alfred Thompson, and the dresses were one of his great and peculiar
triumphs. One effect, obtained by stencilling white satinette with terra-
cotta "smudge," in flower patterns, was so much admired by the lady
patronesses of the theatre, that they wrote to know where they could get
"some of that beautiful embroidery!"
Mr. Toole, well supported, as usual, by Miss E. Farren, Miss Constance
Loseby, Mr. Charles Lyall, Mr. Perrini, Mr. James Stoyle, Miss Tremaine,
and others, made a success in the quaint magician, and his phrase, " Still
I am not happy," became the catch-phrase of the period. In these days
Aladdin would have run for a couple of years, and it would have run much
longer than it was allowed to run in 1870, but the time arrived for the
return of Mr. Charles Santley, and the production of Lortzing's opera.
Czar and Zimmerman is a classic in Germany ; in England Mr. Charles
Santley contrived to make it a respectable success. Great care was taken
to realise the scenery, furniture, and costumes of Holland when Peter the
Great was learning his business as a shipwright. Old prints of the period
were collected by friends in the " Low Countries."
GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA
HERE was no finality about the prices of the Gaiety. The
gallery began at a shilling, but it was afterwards reduced
to sixpence. This sixpence was again raised to a
shilling, as it was found, in practice, that the low price
attracted an audience a little too demonstrative for the
general comfort of the house. The seven shilling stalls
were raised to ten shillings, when the " little theatre in the
Tottenham Court road" advanced its stalls to ten shillings and sixpence. It
was a matter of pride and trade rivalry. I could not allow " the Bancrofts "
to "do my dags." When I had French plays, these seats were always
a guinea. I used occasionally to visit my own gallery. I found the
occupants sociable, and inclined for conversation. One quiet tradesman or
workman of the neighbourhood told me that he regularly used the house. " I'm
sorry," he said, " they raised it to a shilling, although I don't grumble. I can't
come so often, and I likes the place. I knows the people and I feels at Y>me."
A visitor of the same class unconsciously pointed out the weak point in
Gilbert's Old Score. Speaking of the father and son in the piece, he said,
" I don't care what the old man is. He may be a reg'lar bad lot, but his son
didn't ought to speak to him like that. Whatever he is, he's his father ! "
These words pronounced the death warrant of the play.
The " no fee " system was not enforced without difficulty. One comic
maniac brought fifty or a hundred threepenny pieces, and stuck them in the
frames of the " notice " boards. An old lady one night was taken ill, and gave
the cloak-room attendant on her level much trouble. She offered the girl
half-a-sovereign, which was respectfully refused. The old lady wanted
to know why, and was told " by the manager's orders."
" And who is the manager, may I ask ? " said the old lady with dignity.
" Mr. John Hollingshead."
" Then please give that gentleman my compliments, and say I insist
upon giving you that for the trouble I have caused you."
The Gaiety stood alone amongst London theatres, in being the only
one without drinking bars. These were the property of the restaurant
attached, with a right of serving the visitors. The manager of the theatre
may have been a sinner, but he was not a publican. Before Messrs. Spiers
and Pond took a lease of the restaurant and bars, and spent seventy or eighty
thousand pounds sterling in building, enlarging, furnishing and decorating
them, the early tenant was not free from financial difficulties. A levy was
made one day on a judgment summons, and I instructed my military com-
missionaire to watch the seizure and see that none of the theatre property
was interfered with. The orders were received in full military form, the man
standing erect, and saluting. The dialogue was short but to the point :
" Watch those brokers."
" Roight, sur ! " (saluting}.
" Those things and those things (pointing) are not to be touched."
" Roight, sur !" (saluting}.
[A short pauseJ]
" Will I use voilence ? " (saluting].
" If necessary."
" Roight, sur ! " (saluting).
In the summer of 1871, the year of the Commune, when London was full
of French people who sought refuge from what they feared was a " reign of
terror" in their own country, the Gaiety gave house-room to the company of
the Fantaisies Parisiennes from Brussels a company as good as any com-
pany in Paris, but not yet stamped with the Parisian stamp. The theatre in
Brussels was a small one, with a "sliding roof," and the director, M.
Humbert, was an honest, liberal, and straightforward man with whom it was
a pleasure to do business. He shortly afterwards " discovered " Lecocq, the
composer, and acquired an European reputation by producing at his little
house, then known as the Alcazar, and decorated in the Moorish fashion,
La Fille de Madame Angot. He was naturally tempted later on to bring
this effective comic opera to London, and took it to the St. James's Theatre,
once the only house for " French plays." The first night, in French, it was
played to an audience which represented in money fourteen shillings, one
orchestral stall booked at Mitchell's.
His company at the Gaiety included Mdlle. Paolo Marie, Mdlle.
Delorme, Mdlle. Gentien, Mdlle. Clary, M. Mario Widner, M. Kd. Georges,
M. Jolly, and others, who, one and all, were soon gladly welcomed in Paris.
At the close of this French engagement the first attempt at French plays
at the Gaiety Mr. Walter Montgomery was given a chance, which he sought
himself, of playing a round of Shakespearean and so-called "legitimate"
characters. The absence of the stock company on tour, rendered necessary by
the Brussels importation, made this possible at the Great Theatre of Varieties.
The Gaiety had given house-room to "Taste and the Musical Glasses," and
why not. to Shakespeare? The speculation was chiefly Mr. Montgomery's,
but he broke down, and some private trouble coming on the top of this failure
probably led to his suicide. This caused the " closure " of the Theatre for four
weeks, but to make amends the next " season " lasted unbroken for twelve years.
The engagement of Miss Ada Cavendish in a three-act comedy by Dr.
Westland Marston, with Offenbach's Grand Duchess as an afterpiece, gave the
usual substantial and varied character to the programme, and paved the way
for a new opera bouffe by M. Emile Jonas, of Paris this time English. It
was called Cinderella the Younger. The " book " was by Alfred Thompson.
Mdlle. Clary, who spoke and sang as well in English as in French, remained
in England as a member of the Gaiety Company. M. Jonas was an excitable
composer, and during the rehearsal, while Herr Meyer Lutz was conducting,
he ran along the front of the orchestra, watching and correcting instrument-
alists, especially the kettle-drum player. The latter gentleman being nervous,
and not very amiable, at last made a remark intended for everyone present,
" Look here," he shouted, " one (adjective] conductor at a time !"
To keep up the moving panorama of variety and promote discussion
the life-blood of advertisement the Gaiety stage produced a version of
Vanbrugh's Relapse, under the title of the Man of Quality, and at this
period a version of Congreve's Love for Love. Miss E. Farren played
Miss Hoyden in one case, and Miss Prue in the other. I was the daring
expurgator, and in the case of the Relapse a surgical operation had
to be effected. Love for Love was interesting for Mr. Stoyle's " Ben,"
the first sailor made a feature of on the stage, and played by Doggett, whose
name has come down to us with the prize " Coat and Badge." This was
educating the public in the intervals of grinning through a horse-collar.
At such a kaleidoscopic theatre the public would have felt that something
was wanting, if Mr. and Mrs. Boucicault had been omitted from the ever-
changing programme. They accordingly made their appearance in several of
the prolific author's clever pieces and he again proved to appreciative audiences
that he was probably the best Irish actor that had graced the stage for more
than half a century. In one of the pieces, Elfie, a sound and natural actor,
William Rignold, played a blind sailor. Twenty years afterwards he was
stricken with real blindness.
( 23 )
THE FIRST GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PIECE.
HE return of Mr. J. L. Toole at Christmas, who generally
brought with him a new slight comedy-drama by Henry
J. Byron, which he had "tried in the country," enabled
us to put in rehearsal the first combined work of
W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. This was in two
acts, and called Thespis ; or, the Gods Grown Old. It
was their first collaboration, and it showed, if little else, how
well they could work together. Sullivan could write music to any metre ;
Gilbert could write songs to any tune. The company were good as actors, but
they wanted a little as singers. The piece, with all these defects, started an
almost life-long artistic partnership, built an elegant theatre, founded a
native school of comic opera, which justified its creation by showing that it
was immensely profitable.
The old Gaiety, with all its reputed frivolity and its sublime power of
" fluking," did some good in its time.
The cast of Thespis (roughly stated) was :
Venus . ...
Silimon . i ';- :
Apollo . ' \ . .,
Thespis . .
Miss E. Farren
Miss Constance Loseby
Miss Rose Behrend
Mr. Robert Soutar
Mr. J. G. Taylor
Mr. F. Wood
Mr. F. Sullivan
Mr. J. L. Toole
From a Pkoto by Messrs. Ellis & Walery.
MR. W. S. GILBERT.
i ' '/". V :/.
Mrs. Leigh, Mr. Maclean, and others were in the cast, and the dancing
was undertaken by the Payne family, who were then engaged to me at the
Gaiety and elsewhere.
The mixed matinees at the Gaiety had now established themselves as
recognised and expected functions performances that generally differed from
the night performances at the same house, and therefore constituted a " new
departure " in the very conservative field of theatrical management. What
with trial trips of plays, actors, actresses, amateurs, charity representations, and
even conferences or lectures, the house was often open four afternoons (in
addition to six nights) a week, and in one or two weeks, even more frequently.
It was never closed for rehearsals. In eighteen years the thousand and one
nights of the immortal Arabian story tellers were matched by the thousand
and one mornings of the Gaiety treadmill. Supper's Schb'ne Galatea, Ibsen,
many actors and actresses got an appearance at these very catholic
representations, and many actors of reputation got a chance of playing a new
character. The free-trade spirit presided over the selections. Companies
and pieces that had made successes at other theatres which had not cultivated
matinees, were encouraged to appear at the Gaiety on sharing terms, and
they came. Mr. Charles Morton brought his productions from Islington ; Mr.
John Hare from Chelsea, and even the Strand Theatre company came across
the road to try their luck in a bigger theatre. Miss Helen Barry, Miss
Lingard, Mrs. Tree, and Mrs. Bernard Beere were amongst those who made
their first bow at the theatre soon to produce the tragi-comedy of the
Everlasting Pickaxe. Mr. Sims Reeves sang and acted ; Mr. Joseph Jefferson
came with his Rip Van Winkle, now an enduring classic, not only in the
library, but on the stage ; and I induced Mrs. Keeley to emerge from her
retirement, and play for three mornings with Mr. Toole in Betsey Baker.
I believe I could have induced her to appear in Jack Sheppard, a part she
worshipped, but family influences prevailed, and I " dropped the subject." She
had then arrived at seventy years of age, but was as lively as Dejazet.
As I went into the Gaiety Theatre with a little literary reputation-
having been a trusted contributor to Household Words, Good Words, and the
Cornhill Magazine, under Charles Dickens, Dr. Norman, McLeod and \Y. M.
Thackeray, to say nothing of other journals and magazines, under other editors
several of my literary friends expressed disappointment that I had not turned
the theatre into a stronghold of literary drama (if such a drama exists),
forgetting that the title " Gaiety " stood in the way, though it soon became
popular as a theatre name in England, Ireland and Scotland, and even in
India and China. They forgot that the business of a theatrical manager is to
( '5 )
serve the public with what they want and not to force upon them what that
manager thinks is good for them. I was a licensed dealer in legs, short skirts,
French adaptations, Shakespeare, Taste and the Musical Glasses, and I was
quite ready to put this up over the stage-door of the theatre, though not
required to do so by Act of Parliament. My scheme of " variety " every-
thing by times and nothing long was broad enough to include literary
plays, or plays by literary men not always the same thing and I proved
this early in 1872 by producing a comedy by Charles Reade, founded on a
novel by Anthony Trollope, called Ralph the Heir, the play being named
Shilly Shally. It was not allowed to stand alone, being preceded by
Offenbach's operetta, Les Deux Aveugles, and followed by Herve's comic opera,
Aladdin the Second. The cast included Mr. J. L. Toole, Mr. W. Rignold,
Mr. J. Maclean, Mr. J. G. Taylor, Miss Florence Farren, and Miss E. Farren.
The comedy produced ructions present and deferred. Anthony Trollope,
who was in Australia on post office business, writing books on board his
steamship, there and back, when he heard of the production, asserted that it
was put upon the stage without his knowledge or consent. The critics
assailed the piece for certain blemishes of taste these attacks were answered
by Charles Reade with actions for libel, and I found that the literary drama
was only another phrase for a " hornet's nest." I declined to be dragged into
the controversy in this case, and said that as a manager I had nothing to do
with the taste or even the morality of any drama produced under my
management. The Government had kindly relieved me from this respon-
sibility by appointing a reader and licenser of plays, and accepting a fee for
this watch-dog work. When I had paid my one, two, or three guineas to the
Lord Chamberlain's office I left him to justify the amusement he had officially
sanctioned and I had provided for my public. I justified my share in the
transaction to my friend, Anthony Trollope, on his return from Australia and
persuaded him to accept a seat on the Royal Commission on Copyright, which
I was instrumental in obtaining soon after.
On Oct. /th, 1872, Mr. Charles Mathews made his re-appearance in
London after his two years' tour round the world. The engagement was
made at a ten minutes' interview in the summer, summoned by telegraph,
Mathews coming from Southampton, and I from Liverpool. We arranged
dates and terms without legal agreements. He went off to Baden
Baden on pleasure, I started for Vienna on business, and the first of a series
of re-appearances, which were to last over three years, was arranged,
which produced him more money than he ever gained from his whole
theatrical career. There has never been but one Charles Mathews, and
( 26 )
there will never be another. Art there must have been, but it was concealed,
as Horace says, with greater art. Spontaneity spontaneity and always
spontaneity. During his engagement the great " gas-strike " occurred. We
played with candles. No matter! He was a light comedian. Off the stage,
he was a scholar, a gentleman, and a painter, a most clever adapter, a letter-
writer of the greatest charm and distinction, a wit, a humorist, and an incom-
parable after-dinner-speaker. O, rare Ben Jonson ! O, rare Charles Mathews !
About this time, in a burlesque by Mr. Robert Reecc, called Alt Baba,
on the thrice immortal story of the Forty Thieves, two singers and dancers
were introduced as an interpolated turn, called " The Dancing Quakers." To
introduce them in a good Gaiety burlesque, supported by Mr. Toole, Miss
Farren, and " the whole strength of the company," was like over- fatten ing the
fatted calf, or piling Pelion on Ossa, but they " caught on," to use an American
phrase, and caused so much discussion, friendly and unfriendly, that the Lord
Chamberlain (Lord Sydney) came officially to see the performance. The
chief cause of offence was the Quaker expression as old as the days of
William Penn the " Spirit moves us." This was explained away, and the
Lord Chamberlain, being a man of the world, refused to interfere. Miss Kate
Vaughan, and her dancing quartette, made their appearance as an interpolated
" turn " in the same burlesque, going through a dance sometimes called the
"Carmagnole," sometimes the " Parisian Quadrille," but which is never objected
to unless it is labelled the " Can-Can." It raised no commotion, except in the
theatre, where the principal performers thought they ought to be sufficient
attraction without these extraneous barnacles.
During this period Mr. George Conquest played a star engagement in a
piece called Snae Fell, supported by a selection from the Gaiety company.
Numerous pieces were produced at night, or tried in the mornings. A
" Retrospective Review," published in 1873, gives (allowing for errors or
omissions) a detailed account of the Gaiety work to that date.
TAKING STOCK DISEASED ACTIVITY.
N SATURDAY NIGHT, June 28th, Mr. CHARLES
MATHEWS will close his second engagement, and
with it will close the Fifth Season of the Theatre. The
GAIETY THEATRE, opened December 2ist, 1868, has
only been closed four weeks during the period of nearly
five years ; and these four weeks have been more than
counterbalanced by 98 Morning Performances. The Gaiety Morning
Performances have introduced a new principle that of giving an entertain-
ment distinct from the night programme, and varying at nearly every
representation. During the five seasons in question, ABOUT ONE
HUNDRED AND FIFTY PIECES have .been produced; amongst the
COMEDIES, DRAMAS, etc., may be mentioned :
"Dreams," "An Old Score," "A Life Chase," "Uncle Dick's Darling-," "The Hunch-
back," "The Man of Quality," "Poor Nobleman," "Wait and Hope," " Bachelor of Arts,"
" Courier of Lyons," " Doctor Davy," " Dot," " Paul Pry/' " Hamlet," " Lady of Lyons,"
" Othello," " Louis XI," "As You Like It," " New Way to Pay Old Debts," " Honeymoon,"
" Romeo and Juliet," " Richard III," " Donna Diana," " Serious Family," " Love for Love,"
" Night and Morning," " Elfie," " Dearer than Life," " Shilly Shally," " Colleen Bawn,"
" Arrah-na-Pogue," "John Bull," "Good News," "The Critic," "Used Up," " Married for
Money," " Game of Speculation," " Trotty Veck," " Sweethearts and Wives " " Prisoner of
War," " The Liar."
Amongst the BURLESQUES and OPERAS BOUKFE have been : " Robert the Devil,"
" Columbus," " Linda of Chamouni," " Wat Tyler," " Princess of Trebizonde," " Blue Beard,"
"Aladdin II," "Malala," "Grand Duchess," "Les Bavards," "Chanson de Fortunio,"
"Chevaliers de la Table Ronde," " Belle Helene" (in French and English), "Canard
a Trois Bees," "Galatea," "Cinderella," " Thespis," "Cox and Box," "Ali Baba," "Don
Giovanni," " Martha," &c. And at the Morning Performances : " Genevieve de Brabant,"
" Fleur de Lys," " Isaac of York," and " Chilperic."
Amongst the Operas (in English) have been : " Beggars' Opera," " Betly," " Zampa,"
"Fra Diavolo," "Peter the Shipwright" (first time in England); " Letty," "Guy Man-
nering," " Maritana," " Bohemian Girl," " Lily of Killarney," etc.
The Musical composers represented have been : E. Jonas, Delibes, Offenbach, Lutz
Adolphe Adam, Donizetti, Herold, Auber, Herve, Lortzing, Balfe, Arthur Sullivan, Supple,
Bishop, Wallace, Benedict, &c.
The Authors represented have been : W. S. Gilbert, T. W. Robertson, Alfred Thomp-
son, John Oxenford, H. J. Byron, George Augustus Sala, Sheridan Knowles, Vanbrugh,
Tom Taylor, Charles Reade, Albery, Planche, Gay, Dion Boucicault, Shakespeare, Lord
Lytton, Sir Walter Scott, Westland Marston, Congreve, Colman, Reece, Sheridan, Charles
Mathews, Douglas Jerrold, Tobin, Massinger, Delavigne, Foote, Farnie, Poole, Kenney, &c.
The Exponents of these pieces have been : Mr. Alfred Wigan, Mr. John Clayton,
Mr. S. Emery, Mr. Henry Neville, Mr. J. L. Toole, Mr. Henry Irving, Mr. J. Eldred,
Mr. Hermann Vezin, Mr. Stoyle, Mr. Santley, Mr. Sims Reeves, Mr. William Rignold,
Mr. Dion Boucicault, Mr. Charles Mathews, Mr. H. Sinclair, Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. R.
Soutar, Mr. J. G. Taylor, Mr. Maclean, Mr. Aynsley Cook, Mr. Walter Montgomery,
Mr. W. Castle, Mr. George Perren, Miss Madge Robertson, Miss E. Farren, Miss C. Loseby,
Miss Tremaine, Miss Rachel Sanger, Miss Henrade, Miss Rose Coghlan, Miss Neilson,
Madame Florence Lancia, Miss Julia Matthews, Miss Litton, Miss Carlotta Addison,
Mrs. Keeley, Miss Dolaro, Miss Blanche Cole, Miss Ada Cavendish, Mile. Clary, Mrs. Dion
Boucicault, Miss Lydia Foote,. Miss Fanny Brough, Miss E. Fowler, Mrs. Billington,
Miss Annie Sinclair, Miss Lucy Franklein, Mrs. Henry Leigh, Mile. Bossi, and Mile. Roseri.
The French Company of the Fantaiseis Parisiennes, MM. Mario-Widmer, Jolly, Ed. Georges,
Mile. Paolo Marie, &c. And at the Morning Performances, Miss Emily Soldene and the
Philharmonic Company, and Mr. E. Righton and the Court Company, &c.
During this period the GAIETY COMPANY has played in Manchester, Sheffield, Preston,
Liverpool, Bradford, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham,
Bristol, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Norwich, Yarmouth, Colchester,
Ipswich, Rochester, Lynn, Reading, Bath, Greenwich, Greenock, Sunderland, Leeds,
Bolton, &c., &c. And at the London Suburban Theatres : Marylebone, Standard, East
London Theatre, Elephant and Castle, Surrey, Pavilion, Crystal Palace, &c.
In September, 1873, after Mr. J. L. Toole and Mr. Lionel Brough had
appeared in Mr. John Clayton's condensed version of the famous Palais Royal
farce, Tricoche and Cacolet, which became almost a " quick-change " duologue
between these two irrepressible comedians, although they were " assisted " by
Miss E. Farren and Miss Selina Dolaro, Mr. F. C. Burnand was enlisted in
the light-regiment of Gaiety burlesque writers, and his first effort was
Antony and Cleopatra.
( 29 ) E
After Mr. Charles Mathews had come back for one of his short seasons,
in which the bill was changed nearly every night, his place was taken by
Mr. Charles Morton's Opera-Bouffe Company from Islington. Genevieve de
Brabant was brought down from the Cockney mountains of Pentonville into
the Thames valley, and Lecocq's La Fille de Madame Angot (Mr. Farnie's
version, which he wrote rather unwillingly, not believing in the opera until
after its abnormal success). Miss Emily Soldene was, of course, the chief
attraction, and the whole performance, strengthened by a few members of the
Gaiety Company, was very complete. This engagement, or short season,
lasted six weeks, but was continued by Mr. Charles Morton and myself at the
Opera Comique, then a kind of chapel-of-ease to the Gaiety.
An advertisement had appeared in the papers, and a few paragraphs had
been inspired, stating that an important combination would be made just
before Christmas to play two old comedies, Bickerstaff's Hypocrite, founded
on Colley Gibber's Non-Juror, which was itself founded on Moliere's Tartuffe,
and George Colman's John Bull, an old time green-room piece, written
to order, in which every actor was measured for his part the stage Irishman,
the stage rustic, the stage light comedian, the stage low comedian, the leading
lady, in fact all the more or less wooden puppets of the Fantoccini " Show "
which might be kept in an egg-chest in the theatrical property-room. The
pieces had not much of a reputation when they were born. The critics were
severe, and gave, as they had to do at that time, a reason for their severity.
It was not a mere assertion by A to be supported or contradicted by B.
" Now to write plays is easy, faith enough,
As you have seen by Gibber in Tartuffe,
With how much wit he did your hearts engage,
He stole the play, but writ the title page."
For all this the plays acquired the popularity of age, and Mr. Samuel
Phelps kept them alive during his famous rnanagement at Sadler's Wells.
I determined to engage Phelps and produce the plays the one for his
Dr. Cantwell, and the other for his Job Thornberry. Phelps accepted
the engagement at ^100 a week, but my difficulty in completing the combi-
nation arose from objections raised by Toole and Charles Mathews. The
first thought the suggestion an aspersion on his individual " drawing " powers,
and the second thought I was injuring my own pocket, by doing what he
thought would injure his value as a " star."
"His soul was like a 'star' and dwelt apart."
Hermann Vezin and Lionel Brough raised no objection, and the chief
difficulty was soon got over. Toole and Mathews had ^100 a week each,
making the salaries of the three chief principals ^300 a week. The seats were
( 3 )
all bought upas soon as the box-office was declared "open, "and the orchestra
was turned into stalls. This was some weeks before the nine performances
took place, being fixed for the dullest time of the year the nine nights
before Christmas Day when every well-conducted theatre ought to be closed
for Christmas rehearsals. If I had any doubt about the wisdom of my policy,
it arose from the fact that two of my chief " stars " were seventy years of age,
or close upon it. And yet the Gaiety was always associated in the public
mind with youth and beauty. It reminded me of a performance of Faust
which I once saw at the chief State theatre in Berlin, the united ages
of the Faust and Marguerite being 1 50 years ! The Gaiety was going
to be turned into a subsidised theatre in which seniority was the ruling
power. The cast of John Bull may be worth recording :
Job Thornberry ..... Mr. Phelps.
Hon. Tom Shuffleton .... Mr. Charles Mathews.
Dennis Brulgruddery .... Mr. Toole.
Peregrine Mr. Hermann Vezin.
Dan Mr. Lionel Brough.
Sir Simon Rochdale .... Mr. John Maclean.
Frank Rochdale Mr. Charles Neville.
John Burr Mr. Robert Soutar.
Mr. Pennyman ..... Mr. E. Butler.
Simon Mr. Dalton.
Mary Thornberry .... Miss Carlisle.
Mrs. Brulgruddery .... Mrs. Leigh.
Lady Caroline Braymore . . . Miss Fleanor Bufton.
The Hypocrite was played for a week, and John Bull for three nights
the three nights before Christmas Day, 1873.
The Christmas bill in 1873 at the Gaiety comprised The Battle of Life,
adapted by the eldest son of the late Charles Dickens, and (for a few nights)
Recce's burlesque, Don Giovanni. Mr. Henry J. Byron made his first
appearance as a burlesque writer at the Gaiety with an extravaganza on
the subject of Guy Fawkes, when Mr. Lionel Brough became a regular
member of the company.
Mr. Phelps appeared principally at matinees, in most of the old
comedies he had helped to drag from obscurity, or the bookshelves, for,
to tell the truth, after you have selected The School for Scandal and She
Stoops to Conquer, you have very few pieces to pick from, the result of so
many years of a protected drama. The Clandestine Marriage, The Man of
the World, and other pieces from Shakespeare to Bulwer, gave that literary
( 3 I ) E2
flavour to the Great Variety Show, which many people thought it wanted.
Mr. Phelps's impersonation of Sir Pertinax Macsycophant in Macklin's Man
of the World was one of the greatest histrionic pictures of the last century.
It was fitly hung in a gallery which contained Alfred Wigan's Achille Dufard
of the First Night and Charles Mathews's Affable Hawk of the Game
The production of Mr. Dion Boucicault's Anglo-French comedy-drama,
called Led Astray, in July, 1874, served to practically introduce Miss Helen
Barry to the London stage, although, like many more people, she had appeared
at a Gaiety matinee in a pastry-cook's programme. Two actors came from
America to appear in this piece, one Mr. Stuart Robson, a capable New
York low comedian, the other, Mr. Charles Thorne, a fine romantic actor.
If I could have induced him to remain in England he would have become
a second Fechter, without the French accent. He died soon after his return
From drama the Gaiety went back to comic opera, producing a version
of Lecocq's Cent Vierges by Robert Reece, called the Island of Bachelors.
The company was strengthened by the addition of Mr. Arthur Cecil.
Mr. J. L. Toole had gone to America.
THREE THEATRES AND A SHAKESPEARIAN
HE Christmas of 1874 was a busy time. With the
late lamented Holborn Amphitheatre and the Strand
Opera Comique, now dead, on hand, it was necessary
to do something ambitious at the Gaiety. The Merry
Wives of Windsor was selected, which is not Shakespeare's
best play, and Phelps, of course, was cast for Sir John
Falstaff, although it was not considered to be his best
part. The Holborn Amphitheatre was throwing pearls before swine by
playing Rossini's Cenerentola to a sixpenny gallery, and the Opera Comique
was provided with the Kendals in the Lady of Lyons, and other pieces.
The Merry Wives of Windsor had every justice done to it at the Gaiety. The
elder Grieve, the best stage landscape painter of the time, painted the
Windsor Forest scene for the Herne's Oak Revels ; Arthur Sullivan com-
posed the music ; Algernon Swinburne accepted a commission to compose
a song (set to music by Sullivan, and sung by Miss Furtado) ; Alfred
Thompson designed the dresses ; a special choir of children was engaged for
the revels ; Phelps was made comfortable by an air bag, manufactured by
an anatomical expert, which weighed a few ounces instead of man}' pounds,
and gave the " fat Knight " all the rotundity he wanted, without three
hours' nightly hard labour ; the cast was made as perfect as care and
liberality could make it. Here it is :
Sir John Falstaff . . . . Mr. Samuel Phelps.
Mr. Ford . . . '-.- . Mr. Hermann Vezin.
Sir Hugh Evans . . . Mr. Righton.
Mr. Page Mr. Belford.
Fenton ...... Mr. Forbes Robertson.
Dr. Caius Mr. Arthur Cecil.
Master Slender .... Mr. J. G. Taylor.
Justice Shallow .... Mr. J. Maclean.
Host of the Garter. . . . Mr. Gresham.
Pistol Mr. R. Soutar.
Bardolph Mr. Bradshaw.
Simple ...... Mr. Leigh (Denny).
Robin ...... Miss Maude Branscombe.
Mrs. Page Mrs. John Wood.
Mrs. Forcl ..... Miss Rose Leclercq.
Annie Page ..... Miss Furtado.
Dame Quickly .... Mrs. Leigh.
This is Mr. Algernon Swinburne's interpolated song :
Love laid his sleepless head
On a thorny rosy bed ;
And his eyes with tears were red,
And pale his lips as the dead.
And fear, and sorrow, and scorn,
Kept watch by his head forlorn,
Till the night was overworn,
And the world was merry with morn.
And Joy came up with the day,
And kissed Love's lips as he lay ;
And the watchers, ghostly and grey,
Fled from his pillow away.
And his eyes at the dawn grew bright ;
And his lips waxed ruddy as light.
Sorrow may reign for a night,
But day shall bring back delight.
The mixed matinees at this time followed each other in rapid succession,
and amongst the rest a complete pantomime by Henry J. Byron on the subject
of Jack the Giant Killer, was produced for day performances. The Payne
family ;Mr. W. H. Payne, Mr. Harry Payne, and Mr. Fred Payne), Messrs.
Dauban and Warde, and an extraordinary pantomimist named Jones, who
tried all he could to break every bone in his body, and never quite succeeded,
were at my disposal, with other miscellaneous talent only to be found in a real
variety theatre. Miss Rose Fox, a most graceful and clever skipping-rope
( 34 )
dancer, whom I picked up at a " penny gaff" at Shoreditch, while I was taking
a party of friends " round the East End," revived pleasant recollections of old
Madame Ramsden, the Sheffield ballet mistress, whom I brought to the
Alhambra, and who was supposed to be the inventor of this effective dance ;
Willie Warde, and Mdlle. /Enea, and her flying dance, first produced at the
Gaiety, before the Grigolatis were ever heard of, with many others, of
diversified ability, about which there could be no deception, as it was largely
acrobatic, were all members of the Gaiety Company. The lady I selected to
play, what is called in the slang of the profession, the title-role of the
pantomime, was the late Jenny Hill, the one woman of real genius who ever
enlivened the music-hall stage. To add to the variety of the programme,
there was always the Ash-Wednesday hodge-podge which I religiously served
up on that day, for several years, as a protest against the compulsory closing
of theatres, as theatres, by order of the Lord Chamberlain. At last this
practical reductio ad absurduin had the desired effect, and the late Lord Lathom,
then Lord Chamberlain, did me the honour to abolish the regulation
The next turn of the wheel produced a large and very complete French
company one of the best on tour in France, having at their command the
whole repertory of the Opera Comique in Paris. The proprietor and
manager was M. Coulon, and the chief defect of his company was, especially
in London, and at the Gaiety, the personal want of attraction of the female
chorus. In this case youth was certainly not at the prow, whatever may have
been at the helm. If M. Coulon had been challenged on this point, his
answer would probably have been the same as Costa's on a similar occasion,
" If I ring them up in the middle of the night, they know fort}' operas
without rehearsing. "
We went through nearly the whole of the Opera Comique works the
most charming repertory in the world, doing as much in a few weeks as the
parent establishment does in Paris in a couple of years, with a subvention of
^5,000 a year. The speculation was not a success, either for M. Coulon or
myself, but it was pleasant to find that I was dealing with an honest man, with
no irritating French methods of business.
When Mr. Charles Mathews decided to go to India at the time the
Prince of Wales (our present King) made his historic visit, the Gaiety where
the actor, who had successfully launched his last piece and clever comedy,
My Awful Dad gave him a splendid " send off" and was ready to welcome
him enthusiastically on his return. He came back in April, 1876, and one
evening we were honoured with the friendly company of Mr. Gladstone. He
( 35 )
came with the late Doctor Quain, and spent the whole evening on the stage.
Before he enjoyed the frivolities of the theatre (it was a " Mathews 1 night,"
with no burlesque), he must have a long lesson in stage mechanism. He was
conducted down stairs and then up to the flies ; he asked hundreds of questions
about traps, ropes, and counterweights, and when he had collected enough of
material for a Quarterly Review article, he selected the best looking young
lady he could find in the company and sat with her in the prompt box.
Gladstone in the wings, and Mathews on the boards, was a remarkable
combination of age and ability.
A NEW COMBINATION.
O WARDS the close of 1876 Mr. Henry J. Byron provided
the Gaiety with a farcical comedy and the first of a
series of short burlesques. The comedy was called The
Bull by the Horns, in which he elected to play himself,
and the burlesque was named Little Don Ccesar de
Bazan. The company now included Mr. Edward Terry
and Miss Kate Vaughan, who, with Mr. E. W. Royce
and Miss Ellen Farren, formed a quartette that soon became popular,
not to say famous. Miss Marian West and Miss Alma Stanley were also
members of the company. Miss Farren had always belonged to the Gaiety
Company. Mr. Terry remained at the theatre, like Miss Vaughan, for several
years, and Mr. E. W. Royce until he was stricken with a serious illness.
The return of Mr. J. L. Toole at Christmas, necessitated the transfer of
the Gaiety programme to the Opera Comique, leaving Mr. Toole as the centre
of a new company. The entertainment comprised a new comedy by James
Albery, called the Man in Possession, but though other small pieces were
played, it was not supported by a burlesque. A burlesque had soon to be
found, and Mr. Robert Reece soon prepared one called William Tell, Told
Again. Mr. Toole had for his companions Miss Kate Phillips, Miss
Cavalier, Miss Louise Henderson, Mr. Charles Collette, Mr. A. Bishop, Miss
Rose Fox, etc. At the Opera Comique the " other house " Byron gave us
a new farcical comedy called Old Chums, in which the author appeared with
Mr. Edward Terry, Miss Litton, Mr. Maclean, Mrs. Leigh, Mr. F. Charles,
Mr. Soutar, etc.
( 37 )
About this time I engaged Miss Constance Gilchrist a young lady who
was the subject of more gossip, more paragraphs, and more discussion than
Mrs. Jordan or Miss Foote received in the " palmy days of the drama." She
was a child a mere child of twelve when the engagement was made, and she
remained under my management as long as I retrained a manager. She first
appeared in a juvenile pantomime, under Mr. F. B. Chatterton, at the Adelphi
Theatre, playing Harlequin. She then went to the Music Halls notably to
the Oxford and it was at the Bedford, at Camden Town, that I first saw her
and engaged her. She was always intelligent, painstaking, and obliging, and,
later on, when I imported the American drama, after the French drama, she
got an opportunity as a juvenile actress. Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Florence put
her into the comedy of the Mighty Dollar, and gave her the inestimable
benefit of their advice and assistance. She made a success for many
reasons, one reason being very good and very sufficient. She was a girl of
fifteen playing a girl of sixteen, and not a mature woman of forty-five
representing a convent stripling. Once seen in a part like this she had
many offers from managers who prefer the easy work of copying to the
labour of originating. She preferred to remain at the Gaiety. She is now
the Countess of Orkney, well-known in the hunting field at Melton Mowbray.
The burlesque writers, Gilbert, Reece, Burnand, and Byron, were soon
joined by Herman Merivale, whose great literary gifts had not smothered his
wit and humour. His Lady of Lyons Married and Settled was a clever
burlesque continuation of a popular play that often stood on the edge of the
great cliff of Absurdity, only wanting a slight push to send it over. It was
worthy of our mutual friend, Thackeray. Merivale's burlesque had to fight its
way like the best and the worst of them. It was a burlesque in comedy
clothes, and Miss E. Farren had to play a female. Burlesque of all kinds in
the seventies and eighties was the " Aunt Sally " the recognised "cockshy "-
of the critics. It took them ten or a dozen years to understand that the
Gaiety was a " variety theatre." Some descended peaceably to their graves,
quite innocent of that knowledge.
The same catholic spirit presided over the French plays at the Gaiety
that governed the English. Madame Chaumont, always good and clever, a
woman as M. Perrin admitted who ought to have been at the Theatre
Francais, was succeeded by the Vaudeville Company, the Palais Royal
Company, the Gymnase Company, Madame Judic, Madame Granier, and even
Madame Theresa. Much of this led up to the importation, in its entirety, of
the Company of the Comedie Francaise, a project I had long been maturing,
and which I was at last able to carry out, through the tact, perseverance, and
diplomatic ability of Mr. M. L. Mayer, my indefatigable representative.
( 38 )
- , || CHRIST f(HNTI.-s ,i| ,.KK\I\
THE AMATEUR PANTOMIME.
the close of 1877, the Gaiety was thoroughly given over
to the new combination at night, and Byron produced,
what was thought to be one of his best burlesques for
them, Little Doctor Faust. Mr. Toole, with a Gaiety
contingent, went to the Globe Theatre, on his way
to become a manager on his own account at the
Charing Cross Theatre.
The Little Doctor Faust burlesque was represented by Miss E. Farren
as Faust, Mr. Edward Terry as Mephistopheles, Mr. E. W. Royce as
Valentine, Miss Kate Vaughan as Marguerite, Miss Amalia (who had
joined the company) as Martha, and Miss West as Siebel. Mr. Soutar and
Miss Wadman were also in the cast. It was soon added to by a version
of La Cigale, adapted from the great and versatile French authors,
MM. Meilhac and Halevy, to whom the world owes a debt of gratitude.
The English version was called The Grasshopper. I say nothing about its
merits, as I was the adapter. I put the real authors' names in the bill, which
was considered to be a radical breach of the etiquette of play-writing, and I
sold the American rights, what they were at that time, and sent the French
authors part of the money. I got Signor Pellegrini, the great caricaturist, to
paint a fancy picture of " Jim " Whistler for the piece.
The members of a club to which I belonged the " Beefsteak Club "
thought the time had arrived for another amateur pantomime, and I quite
agreed with them. There had been two in about twenty-five years, and
this would make the third. The Forty Thieves was chosen as a subject, and
the programme will explain the details :
( 39 ) F
Wednesday Afternoon, February 73, 1878.
THE FORTY THIEVES,
Messers. R. Reece, W. S. Gilbert, F. C. Burnand, & Henry J. Byron,
And Performed (excepting the Ladies) by Amateurs.
PRODUCED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD.
The Costumes by M. and Mdme. ALIAS, 20, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London.
All Baba (a Woodcutter] Captain GOOCH
Ganem (his Son) Mr W. F. QUINTIN
Cassim (Ms brother) Mr ALGERNON BASTARD
Hassarac (Captain of the Forty Thieves) Mr Jos. MACLEAN
Abdallah (Ms Lieutenant] Mr COLNAGHI
Mesrour .. . Mr F. H. McCALMONT
Gentlemen of "The Forty"
( The Deserving Hanging Committee) '
Mr W. WYE (William Yardley)
Mr LESLIE WARD
Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR
Hon. F. PARKER
Mr W. HIGGINS
Mr A STUART WORTLEV
The remainder of the Forty Thieves represented by Messieurs E. DARELL, W. WYE,
J. WESTROPP, J. GUMMING, C. RINGROSE, C. DALY, HUGH DRUMMOND,
J. GRAHAM, CECIL CHAPMAN, A. B. COOK, BENSON, and AMPHLETT ;
Hon. C. VIVIAN, &c. ; also Twenty Young Ladies, who have kindly given their services,
by permission of the Manager and Directors of the ALHAMBRA.
Morgiana Miss LYDIA THOMPSON
Cogia Miss ELEANOR BUFTON
The Good Fairy , Miss LUCY BUCKSTONE
Scene I. Written by Mr. R. Reece. EXTERIOR OF ALT BABA'S HOUSE.
Scene 2. Written by Mr. W. S. Gilbert. THE WOOD.
Scene 3. Written by Mr. F. C. Burnand. INTERIOR OF ALI BABA'S HOUSE.
Scene 4. Written by Mr. Henry J. Byron. THE CAVE.
CHARACTERS IN THE HARLEQUINADE.
Harlequin Mr W. S. GILBERT
Policeman Captain H. E. COLVILE
Artist Mr LESLIE WARD
Bricklayer Mr J. GRAHAM
Butcher Mr C. CHAPMAN
Baker Mr L. WARD Sweep Mr W. HIGGINS Waiter Mr J. WESTROPP
Ung Mossoo Mr A. BASTARD A Gent Mr A. B. COOK
Columbine .. ...Mdlle. ROSA Old Woman Mr F. H. McCALMONT
Clown Mr W. YARDLEY
Pantaloon Mr T. KNOX HOLMES
Swell Lord DE CLIFFORD
Tailor Mr W. F. QUINTIN
Butterman . ...Mr C. RlNGROSE
Scene i, A QUIET STREET.
Scene 2. AN EQUALLY QUIET BEDROOM.
Early in August of this year (Aug. 2nd, 1878), six arc electric lights were
lighted outside the Gaiety. This was the first introduction to England and
London of the electric light as we have it to-day. When the " incandescent
lamp " was invented a little later, it was first used on the Gaiety stage to
illuminate Miss E. Farren as Ariel in Burnand's burlesque of The Tempest,
called Ariel. This is a plain statement of fact take it for what it is worth. It
was an experiment in the High Art of Advertising. It produced discussion
for a few weeks and months, and well repaid me for the cost of installation and
trouble, which were considerable. The corner gin-shops and cheap tailors
followed after a little interval, as they are always an important factor in street
lighting. Parochial lighting would be a poor thing without them. I was not
a reformer. I was simply a tradesman looking for a " sensation " and I found
it. My light was the " Lontin light" the only light that was never taken
up by company-mongers and stock-jobbers, who kept back electric lighting
for many years.
It was a real pleasure to me to give house-room at this time to a comedy
by Burnand, embodying Thackeray's J earners Diary. My relations with
Thackeray, both as editor and friend, had always been most pleasant and
amiable. I knew his almost childish love for the stage, and I always regretted
that he died without seeing Robertson's Caste or Merivale's " skit " on the
Lady of Lyons.
Jeames was produced many years after his death (August, 1878), and
Edward Terry was an admirable representative of the character. Miss E.
Farren, Mr. Royce, Mr. Maclean, Mr. Elton, Mrs. Leigh, Mr. Fawcett, Miss
Emily Muir, Miss Evelyn Rayne, Mr. T. Squire, and Mr. Soutar attempted
to do justice to England's great author. The Little Faust burlesque, which
had attained a " run " in a theatre that almost discouraged runs, was the
The New Gaiety Restaurant, reconstructed by Messrs. Spiers and Pond
at an immense cost, was opened November 18, 1878 the leading feature, the
communications direct with the theatre, designed for the accommodation of the
public, being destroyed by Act of Parliament. As we had just emerged
from a most unreasoning panic raised by the danger of fire in theatres, the
wisdom of this legislative action must have been apparent to the meanest
capacity. No Act of Parliament ever passed could prevent ingenuity and
determination finding a sneaking, roundabout method of undermining its
provisions, and the communication between the theatre and restaurant, with-
out visitors going into the muddy street, was made by putting the outer-
gate the street-door of the theatre a few feet further up the hall inwards,
and making two side doors that tapped the tavern, on each side of the
passage, being technically outside the playhouse, but practically in it.
During the remainder of 1878 and the early part of 1879, Mr. H. J.
Byron kept the Gaiety well supplied with farcical comedies and burlesques,
amongst the former Uncle, and amongst the latter, Fra Diavolo, Esmeralda,
and several others. Mr. Burnand helped with Boulogne, a version of Niniche.
The mornings were busy with many things new and old comic operas,
Mr. Arthur Sketchley's representation of Falstaff, which, like Mark Lemon's
performance, was unctuous and apoplectic.
Monday, the 2nd of June, 1879, was famous for the long-promised and
eagerly-expected six weeks' season of the whole of the Comedie Franchise. I
say advisedly the " whole of the celebrated company," for their hurried visit
to the Opera Comique in 1871, when they were driven out of Paris by the
Commune, and the fear of the Commune, did not comprise the entire
company, and Sarah Bernhardt was not then a member of the protected
association. My previous attempts to secure what the " high-falutors " call
" this galaxy of stars " were not successful. The late Sir Campbell Clarke
tried M. Thiers, who was obdurate, and very wrath about their unauthorised
flight to England. He possessed, in its fullest development, the " official
mind " (he showed that with the Commune), and he considered that the
Comedie Franchise was a Parisian, not to say a parochial, institution, and
ought never to be allowed to leave the country.
I was patient, obstinate, and determined ; and my representative,
Mr. M. L. Mayer, was equally determined, and much more watchful. He
knew the people he was dealing with, and the Parisian market, better than I
did, and seizing the year, after six years' waiting, in which the historic house
(since nearly burnt down and restored) had to be put in decorative repair, he
succeeded in obtaining a contract. The company arrived, watched over by
the late Francisque Sarcey, the great critic. You never know what may
happen in a country that gave birth to Shakespeare a savage, according to
Voltaire. There is this to be said in defence of the French, that the London
stage has been disgraced many times by outbreaks of Protectionist and
narrow-minded ignorance, leading to mob violence and the destruction of
In this costly and speculative importation, I had no encouragement.
My landlord, a much more " practical " man than ever I was, thought I was
mad. " Old " Mr. Mitchell, the " librarian " and great French play importer,
advised me as " a father " to avoid the business ; eminent actors and managers
took the same view, and I was left face to face with my friends, the public.
( 42 )
They relieved my mind, if it wanted relieving, in twenty-four hours. They
planked their money.
What the company did, has gone into the domain of stage history.
They came over as a body without "stars." No one member, according to
their unwritten laws, was allowed to stand above another. The British public,
however, had something to say on this point. They selected Sarah
Bernhardt, and made her more than a star a planet. There could be no
question of this idolatry. The box-office proved it. The whole repertory
of the Theatre Frangais was drawn upon, and during the six weeks of nights
and six Saturday mornings making forty-three performances all the chief
works played at the great theatre in Paris, were represented at the Gaiety.
The financial result proved the fact, if it needed proving, that big attractions
produce big rewards.
Sarah Bernhardt having acquired a knowledge of her commercial value,
soon made her arrangements to quit the Comedie Francaise, and the elder
Coquelin also soon became discontented. M. Perrin died, and a new director
took his place, who had to suffer for this great administrative mistake of
After the successful season of the Comedie Frai^aise a season
that covered 43 performances, seven of them matinees, and produced
gross receipts of ,19,685 igs. 6d., an average of ^468 icw. a performance
the Gaiety swallows returned homewards. High Art was put on one side, and
romps began. Mr. Byron was still almost the "stock author," but I increased
my literary staff, although I disclaimed being a patron of literature.
Mr. Henry S. Leigh, the popular and clever author of the Carols of Cocaigne,
tried his hand at an adaptation of Le Grand Casimir, but Mr. Henry Leigh
wanted the tact and experience of Mr. Byron or Mr. Burnand, and his right of
entry to the Gaiety Walhalla was disputed by his friends, the dramatic
critics, and not warmly advocated by the public.
( 43 )
A DEATH, BUT NO CHANGE.
HILE I was in Paris arranging an engagement with the
Hanlon-Lees the most perfect acrobatic and dramatic
pantomimists then in Europe I received news of the
sudden death of my friend and landlord, Mr. Lionel
Lawson. I was .much shocked and grieved, and returned
to London at once. Though Mr. Lawson was never,
in any sense, my backer, and his regretted death made
no difference in my tenancy, I lost a supporter who never wavered in
his belief that his tenant, allowances being made for eccentricities, was a
good tenant. He never had the slightest cause to alter this opinion, or
to regret his Gaiety investment.
At Christmas, 1879, the longest piece ever produced at the Gaiety,
called Gulliver a combination of pantomime (without the conventional clown)
and spectacular burlesque was the holiday entertainment. It was in five
acts and several "pictures," and it involved the services of nearly four
hundred people men, women, children (at least 100), and workmen. As
the Gaiety was originally built as a comedy theatre, it required some
ingenuity to house and dress this small army. The author was Mr. Byron,
the arranger \vas myself. The. piece was a success, long as it was, by
reason of its variety, but I gave it a shorter life than it ought to have
had. There was no question about its vitality. The theatre smelt of
( 44 )
At Easter, 1880, the Hanlon-Lees made their appearance at the Gaiety
in Le Voyage-en- Snisse a combination of pantomime and speaking farce
(before alluded to), which was perfect and amusing in its representation.
It was aided by the most elaborate machinery, and effects were produced
that the old pantomimists never dreamed of. The acting was humorous
and refined, commendably free from " horse play," and it had had the
advantage of at least two years' rehearsal. This would even have satisfied
Mr. W. S. Gilbert, or any other stage martinet.
The piece was adapted by Mr. R. Reece (it wanted very little adapt-
ation), and the cast comprised (for speaking parts), Messrs. E. Righton,
F. Charles, W. Penley, J. L. Shine, T. Squire, W. Warde ; Misses Roberts,
Kate Lawler, Maud Hobson, etc. Messrs. Fred and William Hanlon were
the chief " dumb-show " actors, and M. Agoust the chief French actor.
The "palmy-day" performances for the instruction of dramatic critics
and students of dramatic art formed some of the matinees in the early
part of 1880. We never got further than George Barnwell and The Castle
Spectre. The latter piece alone was sufficient to justify the joke, and to
expose the rottenness of protected and patent theatres, and theatrical
monopoly supported by the State. Hitting the patent theatres when they
were down, was, perhaps, not very heroic, but a quarter of a century ago
these houses, which had existed far too long, had many supporters in a
profession which is more trade unionist, in the worst sense, than the Bar or
the Church. The revival, if only for a few hours, of a class of play, that
had degraded a fine race of actors and actresses, was a good object lesson
for many ladies and gentlemen who talked glibly about the " decline of the
drama." These Wardour-street plays had neither the elegance of Sheraton
nor the solidity of Chippendale. They were supported by cultivated
ignorance and natural stupidity, and were worshipped because they bore
the hallmark of Covent Garden or Drury Lane.
The production of Gulliver, in five acts and several tableaux, naturally
paved the way for three-act burlesques, the first of which was the Forty
Thieves a story that the stage will cling to till the crack of doom.
The stage is right. The three-act form had been used for years for opera-
bouffes and kindred productions, with not one-tenth of the fictional back-
bone possessed by the immortal stories of the Arabian Nights. The most
successful of this new Gaiety series, after the Forty Thieves, was Burnand's
Blue Beard, founded on the French comic piece, and represented by a very
strong cast. The least successful were Camaralzainan (which made a
short appearance at the Empire) and Mazeppa. At this time the
( 45 )
theatre had Miss E. Farren, Miss Kate Vaughan, Miss Constance
Gilchrist, Miss Phyllis Broughton, and many other attractive ladies,
besides Mrs. Leigh, Mr. Maclean and others. In what are called
" low comedians," it possessed the largest list ever gathered in one
theatre. These were : Mr. Edward Terry, Mr. E. W. Royce, Mr.
John Dallas, Mr. W. Elton, Mr. Willie Warde, Mr. Arthur Williams,
Mr. H. Monkhouse, Mr. E. J. Henley, Mr. W. H. Wyatt, Mr. T. Squire,
and Mr. Robert Brough. There was no scarcity of understudies. .
The so-called American season introduced The Mighty Dollar, with
Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Florence, as I have mentioned before ; and afterwards
Mr. J. T. Raymond in Mark Twain's Gilded Age, in which he represented
a character called Colonel Sellars. He was a very amusing comedian and
character actor, but the piece belonged to the antediluvian period of the
drama. The same may be said of Henry Dixey and Adonis.
W. J. FLORENCE
A NEW DEPARTURE.
UR burlesque writers had now been increased by William
Yardley and Pottinger Stephens, and, after several
efforts, they combined at my suggestion, and wrote the
last burlesque on the old lines on the subject of Jack
Sheppard. I made several special engagements for this
piece : Mr. David James, Miss Marion Hood, Mr. Fred
Leslie, and others, and the piece was produced as
the first and last of the Hollingshead-Edwardes partnership ventures.
Mr. Fred Leslie remained with my friend and successor, Mr. George
Edwardes, who took over the theatre. To show the catholicity of my
taste, one of my last acts, as an individual manager, was a short
engagement of a Parsee company, who played, amongst other things
in Hindustani, an act of Sakitntala by Kalidasa the oldest drama in
the world. This was in 1886. During the eighteen years that I was
"sole lessee and manager" words of fearful autocratic import the house
was only closed eighteen weeks, or one week a year, and as a set-off to
this, there had been 959 matinees a number equal to over three years of
nightly work. According to Cocker, this made twenty-one years' curtain
raising in eighteen years. The pieces represented, large and small, numbered
about 500 (burlesques formed eight per cent, of the total), and " the pro-
fession " were rewarded with over a million sterling, for which they gave the
fullest value. The English " profession," of course, preponderated, but they
were slightly mixed with French, German, and even Parsee comedians.
( 47 )
After Little Jack Sheppard, the first and the last burlesque of the old
Gaiety type and series (produced under the partnership of Mr. George
Edvvardes and myself), Mr. George Edwardes acquired my interest in the
theatre, and, with the advice and assistance of the late H. J. Leslie (no
relation of the lamented Fred Leslie), he turned his attention to a work
which certainly came within the range of pure English comic opera. This
was Dorothy, a very creditable effort by the late Alfred Cellier and
Mr. B. C. Stephenson. A new company was practically engaged for this
opera, which included Miss Marion Hood, Mr. Redfern Rollins, Mr. Hayden
Coffin, the late Mr. Furneaux Cook, Mr. Arthur Williams, the late Miss Harriet
Coveney, and others. It was called a " comedy-opera " in the bills, and
it had much of the character of Martha. The " book " was founded on
an old play by the free and easy Mrs. Aphra Behn, one of the rushlights
of the Restoration. As a play it was bright and cheerful, and had the
unusual merit of having a good third act. The music possessed all
the charm and melody which Alfred Cellier put into all his works. If he
had had better health he would have easily won a place by the side of
Sir Arthur Sullivan. The success of the piece was secured eventually by
the chance introduction of a song, discovered by Mr. George Edwardes, which
was lying comparatively idle on the shelves of the publishers of the
opera Messrs. Chappell called " Queen of my Heart," which, luckily
for Mr. Hayden Coffin, was a light baritone song, and fell to
his share in a telling situation. This confirmed the impression
which the young singer had already made upon the public, when Mr.
H. Osborne O. Hagan and myself gave him his first engagement in the
Lady of the Locket at the Empire (then a theatre) in Leicester square, the
music of which was by the late Mr. Fullerton, a young American composer.
As Mr. George Edwardes passed his apprenticeship at the Savoy Theatre,
Strand (I passed mine at the Alhambra, Leicester square), and his first
production was Dorothy, it was assumed that he was a disciple of the late
Mr. D'Oyly Carte, and that the Gaiety was to become a second Savoy.
Mr. George Edwardes was a practical man. If the great God Momus had
presented him with a pair of artistic twins like Gilbert and Sullivan, who had
both worked at and for the Gaiety, before they discovered that they were like
the oil and vinegar of the perfect salad, destined to mix harmoniously, for many
a year, he would have been content with the Golconda at his doors and the
two Aladdins who had placed him in possession. He was and is a " commercial
manager" like I was, and with probably as few theories and as few prejudices.
Savoy burlesque in long clothes would have been as agreeable to him as
( 48 )
Front a Photo by Midgley Asquitk.
MR. GEORGE EUWARUES.
, - | -
Gaiety burlesque in short clothes, and far less costly and troublesome. He
had the books of the theatre and knew what their figures proved.
One burlesque by Burnand (Blue Beard), produced exactly three years before
I left the theatre, realised a profit a profit, not receipts only of ten thousand
pounds in ten weeks, until it had to be withdrawn for the French plays.
Such a result was not likely to make Mr. George Edwardes
pay much heed to the funeral dirges of triumph sung loudly in so many
quarters over the supposed " death of burlesque." As a matter of fact,
the Gaiety was* no more an exclusive burlesque house than John Wilkes was
an exclusive Wilkesite, as he told H. M. George the Third. Out of its 500
pieces produced in 18 years, only eight per cent, of them were Gaiety
burlesques, properly so-called. The cleverness of the authors and the actors
gave them a prominence and importance in the varied and incessant labours
of a house which used supernatural industry to make the idle hours of the
public pleasant. Such audiences are compelled by their dinner-hour to seek
for an after-dinner entertainment, call it by what name you will. Burlesque
is never dead in any theatre, and never will be as long as the stage exists.
It may be dormant for a time, but it has the vitality of the Commandant
in Don Juan, or the King in Bombastes Furioso.
Mr. George Edwardes soon sold his interest in Dorothy, after he had
moved it to the Prince of Wales's in Coventry street, to Mr. H. J. Leslie,
where, in another home that had yet to acquire a distinctive character, it
began a new and prosperous career. The cast was strengthened by the
engagement of Miss Marie Tempest and Mr. Ben Davies, and Miss Marion
Hood, released by this arrangement, returned to the Gaiety to join her old
playmates, Mr. Fred Leslie and Miss Ellen Farren, who were just finishing
a successful tour in the country with Little Jack Sheppard.
At Christmas, 1886-7, almost before the " funeral-baked meats," provided
by the chief burlesquophobists, had been decently removed from the Gaiety
table, preparations were made for the presentation of a new " burlesque-
melodrama," as it was called, in three acts, written by the two mysterious
authors who have always preferred to write from behind a newspaper screen,
although they never had anything to be ashamed of. It was on the subject
of Monte Cristo, and the newspapers could never make up their minds,
whether the second name should be spelt Christo or Cristo. The authors
will give themselves no other title but " Richard- Henry," a compound
name, and never, as far as I can ascertain, have published their photographs.
They are too modest, even for the Gaiety. They were fortunate in having
the late Charles Harris as stage manager. The piece was produced
( 49 ) G 2
December 23rd, 1886, and was called Monte Cristo Junr. not Little
Monte Cristo. The company was a strong one :
Edmund Dantes . . . , X. Miss Nelly Farren.
Fernand Miss Fay Templeton.
Mercedes Miss Agnes Delaporte.
Albert . Miss Jenny McNulty.
Valentine Miss Birdie Irving.
Babette ....... Miss Lizzie Wilson.
Carconte ; Miss Billee Barlow.
Mariette Miss Lottie Collins.
Victorine Miss Sylvia Grey.
Noirtier . Mr. Fred Leslie.
De Villefort . . . ... . Mr. E. J. Lonnen.
Danglars . . . . '.". . .. Mr. George Honey.
Caderouse . . . ...... Mr. George Stone.
Morel . . . . . . Mr. W. Guise.
Old Dantes . . . . ' '. . Mr. Alfred Balfour.
Boy at the Wheel . . . .* Charlie Ross.
Captain of Hussars . . . . Miss Florence Beale.
With scenery by the veteran William Beverley, William Telbin, Banks,
and others, and dresses designed by Mr. Percy Anderson, the hundredth
night was easily reached, and celebrated with a ball and supper, at which
the following address was delivered, written by Mr. Cunningham
My patrons and good friends, let me beseech
To be excused a managerial speech.
Tho' curtain lectures are the fashion now,
I much prefer to make a silent bow,
Trusting my pen, in this inscribed address,
To yield the thanks my tongue might worse express
My thanks to you whose suffrages alone
Permit me in this place to hold my own
To you whose constant favour and goodwill
Encourage me to greater efforts still,
And aid me with more confidence to tread
The far-famed footsteps of John Hollingshead.
The sacred lamp lit long ago by him,
I'll try my utmost worthily to trim,
That it may shine memorial to the end
Of him, my one-time colleague, all-time friend.
Another Hero of our merry stage,
Young Monte Cristo, is now come of age.
A hundred nights ago, 'twixt hopes and fears,
He came to be warm welcomed by your cheers.
Though captive in the gloomy Chateau d'lf,
With song and dance he laughs away all grief;
Escaping thence he seeks the Jewell'd Isles,
Where thousand gems reflect your thousand smiles :
Led boldly on by his burlesque Papas,
Young Cristo borrowed from the great Dumas
Like other heroes, finds in Farren parts,
Fame, fortune, and that better prize your hearts.
One Hundred Nights ! 'Tis not a sorry run,
Yet Monte Cristo, Junior's, not yet done
Done ! nay, indeed he's only just begun ;
His friends increase and multiply each day ;
Each night we turn an overflow away.
It is a triumph, and I must confess
I'm very, very proud of our success,
And very grateful to my clever crew,
Each one and all most loyal, staunch, and true.
And so, whilst wishing to present to-day
Some small memento of our favour'd play,
I beg you take this offering, intent
To be a souvenir of past merriment,
And token of the gratitude we owe
To Monte Cristo, Junior, and Co.
The success of Monte Cristo, Junior, was stimulated by " new editions,"
in which new songs, dances, etc., were introduced. These new editions
were practically an invention of Mr. George Kdwardes. The legal squabble
between the management and Miss Fay Templeton did the piece no harm.
Miss Templeton was a young American lady who came to England about the
same time as Mr. Henry Dixey. This gentleman, a clever variety actor and
wonderful mimic, from whom Mr. Fred Leslie learnt much in America,
appeared in Adonis an American burlesque, imported from New York during
my partnership with Mr. George Edwardes. It was " boomed " with a big
banquet at the Criterion Restaurant, at which I took the chair, and the
American Minister (the Honourable Mr. Phelps) was present. Miss Lillie
( 5' )
Grubb, who appeared in Adonis, even then showed that American burlesque
had not the puritanical modesty of New England and the immigrants of the
Mayflower, and this liberty of costume was not fettered by her experience of
London in general, and of the Gaiety in particular. The Lord Chamberlain of
1887 thought Miss Fay's "mode of wearing" her dress was contra bonos mores,
and Mr. George Edwardes agreed with him. The lady objected to be inter-
fered with, and was therefore taken out of the cast, and sued the manager by
trying to obtain an injunction. In this case all parties were right, the Lord
Chamberlain, the manager, and the lady. She did not obtain her injunction,
and did not sue for damages. The Gaiety was still the Gaiety, although its
action savoured of the Savoy.
The company was strengthened at Easter, 1887, by the engagement of
Miss Letty Lind, a young lady of varied talent, who was a very successful
disciple of Miss Kate Vaughan as a dancer. Miss Vaughan (next, of course,
to herself) considered Miss Lind to be the most graceful theatrical drawing-
room dancer of her time, and was one of her greatest admirers.
From a Photo by W. & D. Downey.
MISS MARION HOOD.
from a Pkato by Messrs. Ellis &* Walery.
MR. ALFRED CELLIER.
THE GAIETY GLOBE TROTTERS.
R. GEORGE EDWARDES had resolved to send his
Gaiety Company, properly so-called, on a tour round
the world in 1888, and in the meantime Monte Cristo
Junior went to the provinces. The remainder of the
year 1887, up to October, was devoted to a "patchwork
season," in which Mrs. Brown Potter and Mr. Kyrle
Bellew went through a number of comedies and dramas.
Mrs. Brown Potter had great physical endowments for the stage, and was
always a favourite with Royalty particularly with our present Queen
then Princess of Wales. When I was in America in 1887, I went to
Tuxedo Park. I was asked by the late Pierre Lorillard, what progress Mrs.
Potter had made in England. She had then (under advice) only appeared at
the Haymarket. I felt that I could only make one reply : " She appeared at
the wrong theatre, at the wrong time, in the wrong piece."
Mrs. Potter's Gaiety season was an advance on what she had done before,
though it was not much. When she left the Gaiety her place was occupied
for a short time by a knockabout, though amusing, piece, first performed at
the Olympic, called Fun on the Bristol. This filled up the time till the
" melodramatic burlesque," No. 2, this time in two acts, called Miss Esmeralda,
was ready. The authors were Messrs. " A. C. Torr" and Horace Mills the
latter being understood to be " connected with the city," and " A. C. Torr "
being another name (actor) for Mr. F. Leslie. The cast did not contain the
( S3 )
names of the author and Miss Farren, as they were both " on tour," but it was
ample. Here it is :
Clopin . . . . . s . . Mr. Leo Stormont
Claude Frollo . . Mr. E. J. Lonnen
Quasimodo ........ Mr. Frank Thornton
Corporal Gringoire . . . . . Mr. George Stone
Belvigne . . . . . . . . . Mr. E. W. Colman
Captain Phoebus Miss Fannie Leslie
Ernest Miss Ada Blanche
Esmeralda ........ Miss Marion Hood
Madame Gondelarieur Miss Emily Miller
Fleur-de-Lis Miss Letty Lind
Zillah Miss Addie Blanche
( Miss Maud Richardson and
Female Warders . j Misg Marie de
Miss Esmeralda had a short career, as the return of Fred Leslie and
Miss Ellen Farren, from their American and Australian trip, necessitated the
production of a strong bill for Christmas, 1887-8. This was melodramatic,
and a return to the three-act form a form which I had the credit of
originating. I give the full announcement and company :
A Melodramatic Burlesque, in 3 acts, by RiCHARD-HENRY.
Produced at the Gaiety Theatre, December 24, 1887.
Frankenstein . Miss Nellie Farren
Tartina . . . . . . . Miss Marion Hood
II Capitano Maraschino . . . ' . . Miss Camille D'Arville
Mary Ann . . , Miss Emily Cross
Stephano \ .':...' . . ... Miss Jenny Rogers
Risotto ... / . . . . Miss Jenny M'Nulty
Tamburina \ Miss s y i via Grey
Goddess of the Sun J
Caramella .. . . '. . . . Miss Emma Gwynne
Vanilla ... . ... Miss Sybil Grey
The Monster . Mr. Fred Leslie
Visconti . . . . .... Mr. E. J. Lonnen
The Model . . . , ... . ... Mr. George Stone
Demonico . . Mr. John D'Auban
Mondelico . : . " . . . . . Mr. Cyril Maude
Schwank . . . . '-.. . . . . Mr. Frank Thornton
Dotto . . . .'.'. . . . . Mr. Charlie Ross
( 54 )
From a Photo by Ellis & Walery.
MR. C. HAYDEN-COFFIN.
I /' :<.":
From a. I'hoto by Rllii &* WaUry.
MR. ARTHUR WILLIAMS.
Frankenstein was founded on the old Adelphi drama in which actors
of distinction like T. P. Cooke, O. Smith and others played the " Monster,"
as this drama was founded on Mrs. Shelley's not very thrilling novel. It was
as good a subject as many others for burlesque purposes, and the phantom
twins (" Richard- Henry ") were as good as any other author or authors to give
it its new dramatic form. The burlesque-melodrama, however, was not
destined to be judged upon its merits, either by the " first-night" press or the
" first-night " public. It was a question of pit and privilege privilege and pit.
Mr. George Edwardes had defied theatrical history, and had copied the example
of John Kemble-cum-Squire Bancroft in dealing with the pit. The Gaiety
theatre was never famous for a large pit, and this had been reduced consider-
ably in favour of the stalls, sometimes called fauteuils. Demos was infuriated,
or pretended to be, and there is nothing so infectious as that disease of the
lungs which begins and ends in noise, occasionally varied by a flying brickbat.
In such " popular " outbursts it is as difficult to get a correct report of facts as
it was in the days of Herodotus, according to his own testimony. The storm
blew over, like all storms, and it was probably the last attempt of a theatrical
audience to dictate to a theatrical manager how he shall manage his business.
John Kemble was the first victim with the O.P. riots, Squire Bancroft was
the second (opening of the Haymarket), and George Edwardes was the third.
The prosperity of the burlesque was not injured by the " first-night "
protest, and the financial results were greater than those arrived at by
previous Gaiety productions.
The years 1888-9 saw the introduction of two new authors, both
attracted like moths to the Gaiety candle, I ought to say " lamp," but I prefer
to write candle. These were Mr. George R. Sims and Mr. Henry Pettitt.
Mr. Pettitt was a most successful author of stirring melodramas, and Mr. Sims,
poet, dramatist, novelist and journalist, is a man who ought to have written
for the Gaiety Theatre long before. Their joint effort was a burlesque called
Faust Up to Date, another variation on the French Le Petit Faust of Herve,
and the Little Dr. Faust of H. J. Byron. Miss Florence St. John, the most
sympathetic singer on the London dramatic stage, was the Marguerite, Miss
Violet Cameron was the Faust, Mr. George Stone the Valentine, and
Mr. E. J. Lonnen the Mephisto. Miss Fanny Robina, Miss Grace Pedley,
Miss Florence Levey, Miss Lilian Price, and Miss Maud Hobson, were now
active members of the company. Mr. Willie VVarde had continued at the
Gaiety, and might be considered as part of the " fixtures and goodwill."
While the London Gaiety Company were working hard above, the original
Gaiety Company were equally busy below, and Sydney and Melbourne, having
( 55 ) " 2
the Strand brought to their doors, had every cause to be grateful. At that
time the Antipodes had no very decided taste of their own, like the
Americans, and whether they liked a performance or not, they were ready to
pay for it.
Faust Up to Date was not allowed to take its place as a highly successful
burlesque of the old type, judging by the length of its " run," without the
question being raised as to the propriety and decency of taking the world's
literary masterpieces for Gaiety horse-collar treatment. The question had
often been raised before in my time notably with regard to Burnand's Ariel.
I was saved the trouble of much controversy in this case by Dr. Furnivall,
the great Shakespearian authority, who saw no irreverence in the way the
Tempest was treated by author and manager. In Germany, North and
South, Goethe's immortal work is very popular in a burlesque form. Faustling
and Margerittle, as it was done years ago at the Carl Theatre in Vienna, was
as popular in Berlin, when it was taken on tour, as it was in the city of origin.
I am not a good judge of burlesque, but when I saw it in 1866 at the
Freidrich Wilhelm Theatre, in Berlin, I thought it would have been funny
enough for the St. James's, the Strand, and the Olympic, which were then
burlesque houses. The Gaiety was not built.
Vfs, I *-* k_ A
J.J\-J I ~-7 f-^ * L>
a PAo/c *> Jf. *- A Downey .
MISS NELLIE FARREN.
From a Photo by W. iy D. Downey.
MR. KREU LESLIE.
N 1889 (September 21), after a season of French plays
with Madame Jane Hading, the chief Gaiety circum-
navigators returned from their missionary voyage, and a
new burlesque, in three acts, by "A. C. Torr" and
H. F. Clarke, called RUY BLAH ; ok, THE BLASE ROUE,
was produced. The company were strengthened by
Mr. Charles Danby, Mr. Fred Store}-, and Mr. Ben
Nathan. The following is the cast :
Ruy Bias . .
Don C.tsar de Bazan
Queen of Spain ....
Donna Elto .....
Donna Christina ....
Duchess Agio Uncertanti
Don Salluste .....
Major Domo .
Miss Nellie Farren.
Mr. Fred Leslie.
Miss Marion Hood.
Miss Letty Lind.
Miss Sylvia Grey.
Miss Linda Verner.
Miss Blanche Masse}'.
Miss Alice Young.
Mr. Charles Danby.
Mr. Ben Nathan.
Mr. Fred Store}-.
Court Physician .....
This burlesque was full of grotesque " business," but the fas tie quatre
in which F. Leslie, C. Danby, Ben Nathan, and F. Store}- dressed as ballet
girls, with head and shoulders made up to represent Henry Irving, J. L.
Toole, E. Terr}- and Wilson Barrett, gave offence to Henry Irving, and led
( 57 )
to a little theatrical friction. Irving protested, and his protest had weight.
He had often been caricatured before on the Gaiety stage the first time
by Royce in the Corsican Brothers, Limited, the second time by Henley in
Blue Beard, and the third time by Dixey in Adonis. None of these cari-
catures gave offence, probably because they were not supported by a ballet^
girl's conventional costume !
As it forms an important incident in Mr. George Edwardes's manage-
ment, we may deal with it mostly in his own words.
A Herald man called on Mr. Edwardes and Mr. Leslie at the Gaiety
Theatre, to elicit their ideas regarding the Lord Chamberlain's injunction, for-
bidding the latter gentleman's burlesque of Mr. Irving in the last act of
" What I complain of," said Mr. Edwardes in effect, " is the high-handed
fashion in which the thing has been done. The Lord Chamberlain is out of
town. He has never seen the piece, and has merely acted on an ex parte
statement by a prejudiced party. He telegraphed to his clerk that if the
burlesque of Mr. Irving was not at once eliminated, my yearly licence, which
is to be renewed next Monday, could not be granted. The clerk called here
to-day with that message. If Mr. Irving had spoken to me about the matter,
I would have asked him to come and see the show, and, if he objected to the
burlesque of himself, would have cut it out at once. Nothing could be further
from my wishes than to wound any man, least of all a brother manager, and
an artist of Mr. Irving's position in the profession."
" I suppose, Mr. Edwardes, that the Lord Chamberlain had some legal
grounds for his action ? "
" Well, he has an obscure clause in the licence to go on, which forbids
caricatures of any well-known person ; but if that were not practically a dead
letter, where would burlesque be ? It's the very essence of burlesque. But I
complain much less of the interdict itself than of the fashion in which it was
obtained. Lord Lathom is appointed to judge pieces produced in theatres,
and to judge them he must see them. He is guilty of a breach of his duty in
accepting a mere hearsay statement. Mr. Irving is a personal friend of his,
and that is the explanation of the whole matter."
" Have I your authority, Mr. Edwardes, to state your view as you have
expressed it ? "
" Certainly," said Mr. Edwardes emphatically. " I meant you to state it
so. I object to the manner in which the whole thing has been done.
Mr. Irving, in the first place, should have written to me. to state his objection
and not to Mr. Leslie. I am the manager of this theatre, and am perfectly
willing to take the responsibility of anything done on my own stage."
( 58 )
From a Pkoto by Ellis <Sr* Walery.
MISS PHYLLIS BROUGHTON.
Front a rhoto by KHis & Watery.
MR. HARRY MONKHOUSE.
Mr. Leslie entering the room at this moment, having performed his
nightly " quick change " from the last of his innumerable stage disguises to
his street attire, gave his views on the occurrence.
" I think Mr. Irving might have made his letter to me a little less
peremptory. It is pleasanter to yield to a request than to a command, and I
own that I can't understand his irritation. Why, he has been burlesqued
times out of number, and has never objected before. The man who first
travestied him, Edward Righton, in a piece called Christabel at the Court
Theatre, is now a member of his company, and opens with him to-morrow
night in The Dead Heart. Henry Dixey burlesqued him on this very stage,
and he took it with perfect good humour ; in fact, I believe that he and Dixey
are rather warm friends. Mr. Henley burlesqued him at the Gaiety. It's
supposed that he objects to the petticoats. You know that it is in my ballet-
girls' scene that I introduce the travesty ; but I am told that Dixey, who also
made up as a coryphee, worked in a bit of him in that scene. When I was
playing here in Frankenstein, I got a perfect pile of letters asking me to ' do
Irving.' People like imitations of him, it's one of the penalties of his fame,
and not a very heavy one. I am sure," continued Mr. Leslie, with that
sudden solemnity of visage which with him heralds the delivery of a joke,
"that if ever I should rise to the heights of tragedy, and Mr. Irving should
sink to my position, I shan't have the faintest objection to his burlesquing
me. Will you kindly state that ? I should like it to be known ! "
" You have cut out the travesty, I see. I saw the performance to-night."
" Yes, I imitate myself now ; and if my opinion is worth anything, Leslie
went better than Irving. I wonder if the Lord Chamberlain will object to
that! The crowning absurdity of the whole affair is that Mr. Irving was a
burlesque actor himself once." .
" The incident was closed " by the withdrawal ot the " make up " as
in the case of the Happy Land, at the old Court Theatre. I could not act
as mediator at the time, as I was busily employed in Paris with a replica
of the Niagara Panorama at Westminster. I merely record the friction to
show that a theatrical manager's life is not all " beer and skittles," as my
Whitechapel friends put it.
**& c\$~\ ^^^
( 59 )
NEW MOTHS ROUND THE CANDLE.
HE Gaiety auditory was re-decorated more than once
during this period. The electric-light was installed, the
ventilation improved, and more stage-room and dressing-
room accommodation obtained by the absorption of
the old Household Words Office at the corner of Exeter
street east Charles Dickens's first workshop when he
started as an editor and a publisher. The frontage still remains as
it was, though the interior has been modified for the requirements of
the theatre. This small but important 'building would have been part
of the Gaiety in my time, but the Army and Navy Gazette price was
considered to be a little excessive. When Dickens quarrelled with the
Bradbury and Evans firm, and started All the Year Round, he moved
higher up the street, and the celebrated corner fell into the hands of
Sir William Howard Russell. The trustees of Lionel Lawson afterwards
bought it, and it was incorporated in the new lease granted to Mr. George
Edwardes's Gaiety Company (Limited).
Near the close of 1890 Mr. G. R. Sims and Mr. Henry Pettitt produced
a new burlesque, entitled
"HOUSEHOLD WORDS" OFFICE, CHARLES DICKENS
From a. Photo by Ellis <S- Walery.
MR. G. R. SIMS.
CARMEN UP TO DATA.
Carmen Miss Florence St. John
Escamillo Miss Jenny Dawson
Frasquita ......... Miss Florence Levey
Michaela ......... Miss Maria Jones
Alphonze ......... Miss Katie Barry
Juanita Miss Maude Wilmot
Inez .......... Miss Eva Greville
Zorah .......... Miss Alice Gilbert
Morales ......... Miss Blanche Massey
Intimidado ......... Miss Maud Hobson
Partagas ......... Miss Hetty Hamer
Larranaga ......... Miss Grace Wixon
Mercedes . . . . . . . . . Miss Letty Lind
f Miss Flo Henderson
Miss E. Robina
Miss Minnie Ross
I Miss Madge Mildren
Jos6 . . . . . . . . . . Mr. E. J. Lonnen
Dancairo Mr. E. H. Haslem
Remendado ........ Mr. Horace Mills
Lillius Pastia Mr. G. T. Minshull
Captain Zuniga - . . . . . . . Mr. Arthur Williams
The piece was very successful, and ran into " souvenir nights " and
"second editions." Bizet's music could not be used, although Miss Florence
St. John would have done justice to it, but Herr Meyer Lutz, who was still
at the Gaiety (his twenty-second year), was quite equal to the occasion.
The production of this piece was the first real warning the Gaiety had
of the approaching break-down of Miss Ellen Farren and Mr. Fred Leslie.
Miss Farren, as early as 1871, had shown serious symptoms of a spinal
Early in May they sailed for Australia to complete their second
engagement, " down under."
Miss Louie Fuller, on the road to become a "celebrity" and a "draw"
a lady with ambitions in dancing, not then developed, who wished to
( 61 )
throw a little light on the " Eleusinian mysteries " joined the Gaiety com-
pany, which was further strengthened by Miss Alice Lethbridge. After the
" structural alterations " and re-decorations of the house were finished, the
latter giving Phipps's somewhat ecclesiastical architecture a coating of
Cockney-Moorish art, as understood in England, a new burlesque and almost
a new company, transferred from the Opera Comique, in which Mr. George
Edwardes at that time had an interest, enlivened the new temple. In this
burlesque Mr. Arthur Roberts made his appearance for the second time
at the Gaiety. The piece was called Joan of Arc.
On Wednesday, Sept. 3Oth, 1891,
the Second Edition of the Burlesque,
by J. L. Shine and Adrian Ross, entitled
JOAN OF ARC.
Arthur de Richemont . . . . .... Mr. Arthur Roberts
Charles VI I Mons. Marius
Jacques Dare ........ Mr. F. Emney
Talbot Miss Alma Stanley
Fill-up the Good . Mr. E. Bantock
The Bishop of Bovril . Mr. W. Warde
Village Schoolmaster . . . .- . . Mr. E. D. Wardes
New York Herald . . . ' . . , . Miss Agness Hewitt
Mayor of Orleans . . . ; . '. - . . . Mr. A. Rolph
Joan of Arc . . " . .. ' Miss Marion Hood
Marie . . . . . . . . . . Miss Florence Dysart
Yalande of Bar . . . . ... Miss Linda Verner
Catherine of Rochelle . . . . . . . Miss Alice Lethbridge
Duchess d'Alengon . - . . . . . . Miss Day Ford
Aline . . . . : . . . . . . Miss Violet Monckton
Isabelle Dare . . . . . . . . Miss Louise Gourlay
Blanche Dare . . -' . .-. . .. .. Miss Katie Seymour
French Officer . .'.".'. . . -. Miss Lily Harold
The burlesque was very popular, and the prohibition of one song by
the Lord Chamberlain increased its popularity. This referred to Lord
( 62 )
From a. Photo by Ellit &
MISS LILLIE BELMORE.
From a Photo by Kilt's & Waltry.
MISS SYLVIA GREY.
Randolph Churchill, and the chorus was " Regular Randy Dandy O ! " At
the same time, "down under," the new burlesque destined for the Gaiety
Theatre, London, at Christmas, was being " tried upon " the Australians,
and not found wanting. I quote from the Daily News, October 5th,
" The production of a Gaiety burlesque on the other side of the
world is worth noting as a token of the wide field now open to the
talents of English actors. Cinder Ellen Up Too Late is the title of this
production in playiul allusion to the name of Miss E. Farren, who
plays the leading part, much apparently to the satisfaction of audiences
at the Princess's Theatre, Melbourne, where this novelty was produced
' with great scenic magnificence ' on the 22nd of August. With this
great favourite of Gaiety audiences was Mr. Fred Leslie, Miss Grey,
Mr. Danby, and other well-known members of the company, who are
looking forward to reappearing at their old quarters in the Strand in
this piece at Christmas. We must not omit to note that Mr. Meyer
Lutz, who is responsible for the incidental music, original and selected,
presided in the orchestra of the Melbourne Theatre. The author of the
burlesque is ' Mr. A. C. Torr,' that is Mr. Fred Leslie, who under this
signature, which may be read as ' Actor ' by anyone who is so disposed,
chooses to disguise himself."
The year 1892 was a black year for the Gaiety as black as any year
that has ever fallen on a popular London theatre especially a theatre
dealing in the lighter forms of the drama. It began at Christmas, 1891,
when Miss Ellen Farren was seized with an illness which compelled her to
withdraw (probably for ever) from the stage, on the eve of the production
of a burlesque which she had started on a career of success in Australia,
and it ended close upon the next Christmas (1892), when her dear friend
and comrade, who had helped her to make this success, Mr. Fred Leslie,
died rather suddenly on December /th of typhoid fever. Few theatrical
deaths ever caused a more painful sensation. He was universally regretted.
The theatre was closed on the night of his funeral.
The burlesque, Cinder Ellen, was in full rehearsal the manager, hoping
against hope, was daily expecting her to skip on to a stage which she had
made her own, and take her place amongst her friends and companions.
Miss Kate James, at last, pluckily entered the breach. Miss Farren had
said in Australia that Cinder Ellen would be her last burlesque, as she
intended to devote the remainder of her career to comedy. She should have
( 63 )
(A burlesque, in three acts, by A. C. Torr and W. T. Vincent. Music by
Meyer Lutz.) Christmas Eve, 1891.
Cinder-Ellen Miss Kate James
Linconzina ........ Miss Sylvia Grey
Fettalana . . . . . . . . Miss Florence Levey
Mrs. Kensington Gore ...... Miss Emily Miller
Lord Taplow ........ Miss Maud Hobson
Lord Eastbourne ....... Miss Blanche Massey
Lord Soho ........ Miss Hetty Hamer
Lord Whitefriars ....... Miss Dunville
Sir Peterborough Court Miss Maud Boyd
Sir Waterloo Bridge . . . . . . Miss Norton
Catherina ........ Miss Lillian Price
Grazina . Miss Maud Wilmot
Furnivalzina . . . . . . Miss Violet Monckton
Griffina ......... Miss Eva Greville
Templina ........ Miss Adelaide Astor
Victorina ........ Miss Lily M'Intyre
Prince Belgravia . . . . . . Mr. E. J. Lonnen
Sir Ludgate Hill . . . . . . . Mr. Arthur Williams
Peckham and ) ( Mr. Harris
Gnonvood ) ' ( Mr. Walker
Footman . Mr. Hill
A Servant . . . . .' . . Mr. Fred Leslie
The three acts of the burlesque were afterwards reduced to two, and
Miss Lottie Collins, who had been a member of the Gaiety Company when
Faust up to Date was being played, was engaged to sing nightly, as a " turn,"
her wildly popular song of " Ta-ra-boom-de-ay." It was received with
frantic enthusiasm. Mr. George Edwardes at this time knew that Fred
Leslie was seized with the usual actor's ambition to become a manager. His
relations with Fred Leslie were always of the most friendly kind, and he
sympathised with his designs, but made " other arrangements " in self-defence.
He engaged Mr. Arthur Roberts to open at Christmas, 1892.
The Gaiety Chronicles, as I have just shown, are not always a record of
comedy and burlesque. They have their sad and sober side, as every theatre
must have, even in so short a period as thirty-four years, which has changed
its company and pieces with more rapidity than a South American State
changes its Government. The list of those who have " gone before " is long
and distinguished, and it is a consolation to know that their work was fully
appreciated, and that they live honoured in the memory of those they
have left behind.
( 64 )
From a Photo by Ellis <5r Walcry.
MR. E. J. LONNKN.
Front a Photo by Ellii &* \\'alety.
MR. ARTHUR ROBERTS.
GAIETY THEATRE, STRAND, 1868-1903.
Lionel Lavvson, Founder.
C. J. Phipps, Architect.
H. Stacey Marks, R.A.
George Gordon, Scenic Artist.
Alfred Thompson, Artist and Author.
Alfred Wigan, Actor and Manager.
Charles Mathews, Actor and Manager.
Samuel Phelps, Actor and Manager.
Marie Litton, Actress and Manageress.
Adelaide Neilson, Actress.
Ada Cavendish, Actress.
Harry Monkhouse, Actor.
Sims Reeves, Vocalist and Actor.
Florence Farren, Actress.
George Moore, A faithful Servant.
Thomas Grieve, Scenic Artist.
M. Herve, Composer.
Jenny Hill, Variety Artiste.
Arthur Sullivan, Composer.
M. Humbert, Manager.
M. Emile Perrin, Manager.
Henry S. Leigh, Author.
Julia Matthews, Operatic Singer.
Walter Montgomery, Actor and Manager.
Charles Reade, Author.
Tillie Wadman, Actress.
Emily Duncan, Actress.
Kate Munro, Actress and Vocalist.
Rose Leclercq, Actress.
Joseph Eldred, Actor.
T. Squire, Actor.
J. W. Henley, Actor.
Dion Boucicault, Author and Actor.
Robert Reece, Author.
Henry J. Byron, Author and Actor.
W. Yardley, Author.
W. J. Florence, Actor.
Harriett Coveney, Actress.
Edward Solomon, Composer.
John Clayton, Actor and Manager.
Arthur Cecil, Actor and Manager.
David James, Actor and Manager.
Sir Campbell Clarke, Author.
George Conquest, Actor and Manager.
Arthur Dacre, Actor.
Amy Roselle, Actress.
Selina Dolaro, Actress and Vocalist.
Samuel Emery, Actor.
II. B. Farnie, Author.
Edward Righton, Actor.
J. T. Raymond, Actor.
G. A. Sala, Author.
Anthony Trollope, Author.
Signer Pellegrini, Artist.
George Stone, Actor.
E. J. Lonnen, Actor.
Charles Harris, Stage Manager.
Fred Leslie, Actor and Author.
George Honey, Actor.
W. H. Pettitt, Author.
Christopher Pond, Caterer.
Therese Furtado, Actress.
W. Bel ford, Actor.
Louise Henderson, Actress.
Meyer Lutz, Conductor.
Kate Vaughan, Dancer and Actress.
Furneaux Cook, Singer and Actor.
William Elton, Actor.
Pottinger Stephens, Author.
Alma Egerton, Actress.
John Maclean, Actor.
Emily Muir, Singer and Actress.
Minnie Ross, Actress.
Stuart Robson, American Actor.
Charles Thorne, American Actor.
Lillie Belmore, Actress.
Charles Ryley, Actor.
( 67 ) K2
THE FARREN DEMONSTRATION.
ORTUNATELY Miss Ellen Farren has not to be added
to this sad list, but an attack of rheumatic fever on her
return voyage from Australia developed locomotor-ataxy.
The theatre to which she had devoted the best part of her
life at that time eighteen years with me and five years
with George Edwardes " variety show " as it always
was felt her compulsory withdrawal from the stage almost
as much as if the black curtain had fallen on her unceasing, inspiriting and
never vulgar efforts. Though impelled to play " burlesque boys," as much
as Grimaldi was impelled to play clowns, and Robert Burns was impelled to
write convivial songs, Nature had given her some portion of that genius
which ages before had inspired and directed Aristophanes.
The estimation in which she was held (I am quoting from Gaiety
Chronicles), and the broad sympathy expressed for her in her illness, took
a fitting and substantial form on the i/th of March, 1898, in a gigantic
benefit at Drury Lane Theatre, organised by Mr. George Edwardes. Every
member of the dramatic world took part in the stage entertainment, and
Mr. Arthur Collins not only gave the free use of the theatre, but also his
most valuable services. The General Committee was headed by the Duke
of Beaufort, the Duke of Fife, the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Hardwicke,
the Earl of Durham, the Earl of Londesborough, the Earl of Kilmorey,
Lord Alington, Lord Archibald Campbell, Lord Rothschild, Lord Russell
Fro,,, a Photo by Ellis &> Watery.
MR. WILLlIi WARDK.
From a Photo by Ellis & Wal/ery.
MISS CISSIE LOFTUS.
(the late Lord Chief Justice), Lord Farquhar, Sir Edward Lawson, Sir
Blundell Maple, Sir Henry Irving, Sir Edward Clarke, Sir Arthur Sullivan,
Sir Squire Bancroft, Sir Douglas Straight, and every theatrical manager in
London. The benefit was under the special patronage of the Prince and
Princess of Wales, and both these Royal patrons sent substantial subscrip-
tions. The receipts and subscriptions were over 7,000, and such an enthu-
siastic demonstration has probably never been equalled in a Metropolitan
theatre. This triumph of organisation and sympathy with a popular
favourite, not old, but incapacitated by illness, apart from Mr. George
Edwardes's initiative action, owed nearly everything to the exertions of
Mr. Walter Pallant, Mr. Horace Lennard, and Mr. Arthur Cohen, who were
really the acting Executive Committee. The only scene that approached
it was Charles Mathews's reappearance in London at the Gaiety Theatre
after his long voyage round the world in 1871-2.
The Farren demonstration may or may not have been meant as a vote
of admiration for that form of burlesque associated with the dying Gaiety
(No. i) which, in 1898, was in a state of suspended animation, but it was so
regarded by, at least, one eminent and accepted dramatic critic, of the
academic order, who at last gave the galvanised corpse its due. He was
moved to assert that Gaiety burlesque is the national drama of modern
England, forgetting that the two vampyres who had fed upon it for thirty-
four years at the same theatre (the only instance, probably, of one playhouse
being carried on so long with only two managers) were standing modestly
at the wings, leaving the triumphant proceedings to the willing army ot
ADVENT OF .MUSICAL COMEDY.
]RED LESLIE'S regretted death and Miss Farren's
obstinate illness stopped the production of Don Juan, a
burlesque he had prepared for the Gaiety, and Mr. George
Edvvardes, with his great resources, was able to supply
his wants from one of his " chapel-of-ease " theatres. In
Town was transferred from the Prince of Wales's Theatre,
with Mr. Arthur Roberts and Miss Florence St. John
as the chief attractions. This transfer marked the introduction at the
Gaiety of Mr. George Edwardes's distinct invention, the so-called and
immensely popular " musical comedy." The authors of In Town were
Mr. Adrian Ross and Mr. Branscombe, and the composer was Mr. Osmond
Carr. It must not be supposed that the Gaiety company was starving under
its misfortunes. Arthur Roberts, with Mr. Arthur Playfair as understudy,
Miss Maud Boyd, a capable vocalist, to draw upon, if necessary, Miss Florence
Lloyd, Miss Kate Cutler, Mr. Edmund Payne (the son of Harry Payne),
Mr. Eric Lewis, Miss Phyllis Broughton, Mr. E. Bantock, Miss Sylvia Grey,
Mr. Fritz-Rimma, Miss Maria Davis, Miss Topsy Sinden, Miss Bob Robina,
Miss Maud Hobson, Mr. Louis Bradfield, Miss Florence St. John, and many
others, showed no diminution of strength and attractiveness. Two hundred
and fifty nights, and " second editions," proved that the new bridge between
old burlesque, burlesque " up-to-date " and musical farce or comedy, had
safely carried George Edvvardes and his legions over. Miss Cissie Loftus
joined the In Town cast, with Miss Louie Fuller as a dancer, and several
extraneous attractions, French and American, were introduced.
After a short season of French comic opera in English, Miss Florence
From a Photo by Ellis S- H'alery.
MISS FLORENCE ST. JOHN.
l-'rom a. Photo by \V. A*. D. Dawnty.
MISS LETTY LIND.
. - . , . .
From a Photo by Ellis &* U'altry.
MISS ELLAI.1NK TERRISS.
St. John playing the chief part in the Mascotte, Mr. George Ed \vardes
re-crossed the bridge and reverted to burlesque, producing a three-act piece
of this type, called Don Juan. The responsible author was Mr. J. T. Tanner,
and in it Mr. Arthur Roberts played half-a-dozen characters. Miss Millie
Hylton and Miss Cissie Loftus played the two chief parts Don Juan and
Haidee, and the rest of the cast comprised : Miss Sylvia Grey, Miss Katie
Seymour, Willie Warde, George Mudie, Edmund Payne, E. W. Royce (of
Gaiety Quartette fame), Robert Pateman, Topsy Sinden, Maria Davis, and
Louise Montague. The lyrics were by Mr. Adrian Ross, not so well-known
as he is now, and the music by Herr Meyer Lutz, E. Solomon and Sidney
Jones. The burlesque was no doubt founded on the work which Fred Leslie,
at the time of his death, was preparing for Christmas. The burlesque was a
great success partly owing to two "brushes" with the Lord Chamberlain
one concerning the Sultan of Turkey, and the other the Khedive of Egypt.
It finished its two hundredth night and more triumphantly, and then gave
place to Madame Rejane (the Parisian genius w r ho began her career
in burlesque), who appeared in Sardou's Madame Sans Gene. Early
in August, the last burlesque of the early Gaiety period, Little Jack Sheppard,
was revived with the following necessarily altered cast :
Jack Sheppard ..... Miss Jessie Preston.
Jonathan Wild ..... Mr. Seymour Hicks.
Blueskin ...... Mr. Charles Danby.
Thames Darrell ..... Miss Amy Augarde.
Mr. Wood ...... Mr. E. W. Royce.
Kneebone . . . . . . Mr. Willie Warde.
Sir Roland Trenchard . . . Mr. Cheesman.
Abraham Mendez . . . . Mr. Frank Wood.
Ireton . . . . . . Miss Violet Monckton.
Quilt Arnold ..... Miss Kate Cannon.
Shotbolt . ..... Miss Carrie Benton.
Marvel . ..... Miss Flo Henderson.
Captain Cufif ..... Miss Ethel Earle.
Winifred Wood ..... Miss Ellaline Terriss.
Mrs. Sheppard ..... Miss Lizzie Collier.
Edgworth Bess ..... Miss Maude Hill.
Poll Stanmore Miss Florence Levey.
Kitty Kettleby ..... Miss Georgina Preston.
Since the burlesque was written, one of the authors died, Mr. William
Vardley ; and Miss Wadman, who was in the original cast as Thames
Darrell, died before the revival.
A RECORD RUN.
HE invention or discovery of Musical Comedy was a happy
inspiration of Mr. George Edwardes's. It provided a new
form of entertainment for playgoers who go to a theatre for
amusement and recreation, which was more elastic in plot
or story than the old burlesques. These were generally
tied to some well-known tale or legend. This new turn
of the dramatic kaleidoscope exhibited a little of the
old burletta and the old vaudeville, most of the best elements of farce,
a dash of the French revue a stage compound that has never been very
fashionable in this country, and much that would not have been out of
place in Parisian opera-bouffe. The frame-work would allow of anything
being taken out or anything put in, differing in this very little from the
Gaiety burlesque, and the term " variety show," applied to many of these
productions, had obviously been " lifted " from their predecessors.
The first of these productions originally given at the Gaiety, and certainly
the most successful judging from its length of life, was The Shop Girl which
introduced a new author to the Gaiety Mr. H. J. Dam. The music was by
Mr. Ivan Caryll, the successor to Herr Meyer Lutz. It achieved its 3OOth
performance in October 1895, its 5OOth performance in June 1896, and its
two years of existence before it was withdrawn in the November of that year.
The dresses were modern and fashionable, and the cast was perfect and varied.
I give the play-bill in extenso :
J-'roiii a rhota by Ellis &> Watery.
MISS MAUD HILL.
I'roni a t'ht>tt> by Ellis & 1 Waltry.
MISS KATIE SEYMOUR.
From a Photo by Ellis & Waltry.
MR. IVAN CARYLL.
E AND MANAGER
TO-NIGHT, AND EVERY EVENING AT 8,
DOORS OPEN AT 7.40.
THE SHOP GIRL,
A MUSICAL FARCE,
By H. J. W. DAM. Music by IVAN CARYLL.
Additional Numbers by ADRIAN ROSS & LIONEL MONCKTON.
Charles Appleby ...
Sir George Appleby
Count St. Vaurien
Mr. Miggles ...
Lady Dodo Singleton
Lady Appleby ...
(Proprietor of the Royal Stores)
(a Medical Student)
(One of the Boys)
(a Millionaire) ...
... (Secretary to Mr. Brown)
(Financial Secretary to Lady Appleby)
(Shopwalker at the Royal Stores)
...(Fitter at the Royal Stores)
(Charlie's Mother, Wife of Sir George)
(an Apprentice at the Royal Stores)
(Lady Appleby's Daughters)
(of the Syndicate Theatre)
(" The Shop Girl ")
Mr. ARTHUR WILLIAMS
Mr. SKYMOUR HICKS
Mr. GEORGE GROSSMITH, Junr.
... Mr. COLIN COOP
Mr. CAIRNS JAMES
Mr. FRANK WHEELER
Mr. ROBERT NAINBY
Mr. WILLIE WARDE
Mr. EDMUND PAYNE
Miss HELEN LEE
Miss KATIE SEYMOUR
Miss MARIA DAVIS
Miss LILLIE BELMORE
Miss LILLIE DICKINSON
Miss AGATHA ROZE
Miss LILY JOHNSON
Miss ADELAIDE ASTOR
Miss FANNY WARD
Miss MAUD SUTHERLAND
Miss LILLIE HENSHAW
Miss VIOLET MONCKTON
Miss ADA BELTON
Miss MAUD HOPPE
Miss LOUIE COOTE
Miss MAGGIE RIPLEY
Miss TOPSY SINDEN
Miss ADA REEVE
Act I. The Royal Stores (IV. Johnstone). Act II. Fancy Bazaar at Kensington (//'. Hanti).
PAS SEUL, in the Second Act, by Miss TOPSY SINDEN.
Dances arranged by WII.I.IE WARDE. Costumes designed by WII.HEI.M, and executed by Miss FISHER,
Madame AUGUSTE, HARRISONS Limited, MORRIS ANC.EI. and " VAMTE."
Wigs by C. H. Fox. Furniture, &c., by OETZMANN & Co., Hampstead Road, N.\V.
Electric Lighting and Effects by G. PoYNTON.
Produced under the direction of J. T. TANNER.
The Music conducted by the Composer. Mr. IVAN CARYLL.
( 73 )
Its successor was a piece of the same type, in two acts, called eventually,
My Girl, written by Mr. J. T. Tanner, with songs by Mr. Adrian Ross. The
music was by Mr. F. Osman Carr. The costumes again were modern. The
cast was a strong one, although Mr. Seymour Hicks did not appear in it with
Mrs. Hicks (Miss Ellaline Terriss).
The Rev. Arthur Mildreth (Vicar of Stoke Barum, Somerset) Mr. CHARLES RYLEY
Theo ... ... (his son, a lieutenant in the Guards) Mr. PAUL ARTHUR
Alexander McGregor (of the Mulct in Parvo Stock Exchange) Mr. JOHN LE HAY
Dr. Tertius Huxtable ... ... ... ... ... Mr. FRED KAYE
Lord Barum ... ... ... ... ... Mr. LAWRENCE D'ORSAY
Leopold Van Fontein ... ... (A Financier) ... Mr. W. H. RAWLINS
Saunders ... ... (Fontein's Valet) Mr. LESLIE HOLLAND
Weeks ... ... ... ... ... ... Mr. WILLIE WARDE
The Mayor of Porthampton ... ... ... ... ... Mr. COLIN COOP
John Fahee ... ... ... (of Bashangoland) ... Mr. W. DOWNES
Lady Bargrave ... ... ... ... ... ... Miss MARIA DAVIS
Beatrix ... ... ... (Barunrs Sister) ... Miss ETHEL HAYDON
Rebecca ... ... (Fontein's Daughter) Miss MARIE MONTROSE
Phoebe Toodge (May's Maid) ... Miss KATIE SEYMOUR
Melissa Banks .,. ... (Fontein's Private Secretary) Miss ETHEL SYDNEY
Mayoress ... ... ... ... Miss CONNIE EDISS
Dorothy ~| , n , . > ( Miss KATE ADAMS
Mar/ (Her Daughters) -, Miss ADA MAITLAND
MissVeriner ... ... ... ... ... ..... Miss FLORENCE LLOYD
Mrs. Parkinson ... ... ... ... ... Miss GRACE PALOTTA
May ... ... ... (The Vicar's Daughter) Miss ELLALINE TERRISS
This was called a " Domestic Musical Play." The cast was long enough
and strong enough to carry any comedy.
The next venture was a play of German origin, first represented in
Vienna, which ultimately assumed at the Gaiety the title of The Circus
Girl. It had six godfathers, without the manager, Mr. George Edwardes,
who, like all good managers, always counts a good deal in all his pro-
ductions. Mr. Edwardes has never been known to leave a piece after its
production, if by judicious "editing" he could cut out the faulty parts, and
insert new attractions. " Musical comedy " is too costly a theatrical product
to be allowed to drift without the watchful care of competent management.
Ten to twenty thousand pounds placed on the stage is very different from a
domestic comedy, the original cost of which may be fifty pounds, and
the weekly cost of " running " about forty pounds a night. The critical
attention too often bestowed upon these costly efforts to amuse the public is
on a par with the action of the " licensing authorities." A theatre that costs
seventy or eighty thousand pounds to build and open with decency, theo-
retical safety, and artistic taste, gets exactly the same license (neither more
nor less) as playhouses costing one-tenth of the amount, and perpetuating
the vices of the old provincial theatres. Mr. J. T. Tanner and Mr. W.
Palings were responsible for the " words," Mr. Ivan Caryll and Mr. Lionel
( 74 )
From a Photo by Ellis &> Walery.
MR. EDMUND PAYNE.
I / | U
From a Photo by Ellis <5r Walery.
MR. G. GROSSMITH, JUN.
From a Photo by Ellis d" Watery.
MISS CONNIE EDISS.
Monckton for the "music," and Mr. Harry Grecnbank and Mr. Adrian Ross
for the " lyrics." Here is another cast of exceptional strength and variety :
Dick Capel Mr. SEYMOUR HICKS
Sir Titus Wemyss Mr. HARRY MONKHOUSK
Drivelli (Proprietor of Circus) ... Mr. ARTHUR WILLIAMS
Hon. Reginald Gower Mr. LIONEL MACKINDER
Auguste , fQowns } ( Mr. VVILLIK WAKDE
Adolphe / I Mr. BERTIE WRIGHT
Alhertoni (Ring Master) Mr. COLIN COOP
Commissaire of Police Mr. ROBERT NAINBV
Vicomte Gaston Mr. MAURICE KARKOA
Toothick Pasha (The Terrible Turk) Mr. ARTHUR HOPE
Rudolph (The Cannon King) Mr. E. D. WAKDES
Proprietor of the Cafe de la Regence Mr. LESLIE HOLLAND
Flobert Mr. ROBERT SELBY
Cocher Mr. W. F. BROOKE
Sergent de Ville Mr. FRED RING
Valliand Mr. W. H. POWELL
Biggs (An American Bar Tender) ... Mr. EDMUND PAYNE
Lucille (A Slack Wire Walker) ... Miss KATIE SEYMOUR
"LaFavorita" Miss ETHEL HAYDON
Mrs. Drivelli Miss CONNIE EDISS
Lady Diana Wemyss Miss MARIA DAYIS
Marie . Miss GRACE PALOTTA
... Miss LILY JOHNSTON
, T , c ,. , , ... Miss LOUIE COOTE
The Serpentine Quartette) J Mjss AUCE EETELLE
Miss MAIDIE HOPE
Comptesse d'Epernay ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Miss ADA MAITLAND
Marquise de Millefleurs ............... Miss KATHLEEN FRANCIS
Mdlle. Gompson ........................ Miss ALICE NEILSON
Dora Wemyss ................. ...... Miss ELLALINE TERRISS
Dancers Mdlles. MAGGIE FRAZER, ETHEL NIELD,
LOTTIE WILLIAMS, AND MADGE GREET.
The records of the Theatre since Musical-Comedy took the place of
Burlesque, Old and New, are marvellous, as showing how much has been
done with very few pieces. This is the list :
In Town .... produced December 26th, 1892.
La Mascotte ... September 9th, 1893.
Don Juan .... October 28th, 1893.
Madame Sans G$ne June 23rd, 1894.
Little Jack Sheppard August iith, 1894.
The Shop Girl . . November 24th, 1894.
My Girl .... July I3th, 1896.
The Circus Girl . . December 5th, 1896.
A Runaway Girl . May 2ist, 1898.
The Messenger Boy . February 3rd, 1900.
The Toreador ... June i/th, 1901.
The first piece, In Town, was a Prince of Wales's Theatre production
transferred. The Mascotte represented an intermediate opera season.
Don Juan was a burlesque. Madame Sans Gfne opened another inter-
mediate season in French, with Madame Rejane, and Little Jack Sheppard
was a burlesque revival. This leaves only seven musical comedies or farces,
two of which, The Shop Girl and The Toreador, have achieved the longest
recorded runs in this class of entertainment. The introduction of The Link-
man as a supplement or postscript was a happy idea, cleverly carried out. Its
Gaiety " memories" enlightened the young and pleased the old. The author
is Mr. George Grossmith, junior, a clever member of a clever family, who
are actors, musicians and artists. The Linkman brings The Toreador to a
triumphant conclusion. To have achieved such large results with so few
pieces, and, at the same time, to have encouraged and almost founded a
new market in theatrical talent, is a proof, if any were needed, of
Mr. George Edwardes's great capacity as a manager.
The number of actors and actresses, who have, so to speak, graduated
at the old Gaiety, from the earliest days, is probably greater than at any
other theatre. Amongst the managers it sent forth into the theatrical world
were Henry Irving and J. L. Toole, Forbes Robertson, W. S. Penley,
Norman Robertson, Mr. Edward Terry, a comedian of quaint and
original humour, and of world-wide celebrity ; Mr. John Clayton and
Mr. Arthur Cecil, neither of whom had quite the managerial instinct,
although they both tried management, John Clayton being a sound and
varied actor, who died too early to show his full power ; Miss Fowler and
Miss Litton, Cyril Maude, Weedon Grossmith, and Miss Mary Moore.
Amongst the actors and actresses who came to it young and ambitious and
soon made a name were Miss Cissie Loftus, who after an important career in
America, became a leading lady of Sir Henry Irving's Company, through the
strong recommendation of Miss Ellen Terry ; Miss Constance Collier, who
is a member of Mr. Beerbohm Tree's distinguished company ; Miss Ellaline
Terriss, who in her husband's (Mr. Seymour Hicks's) clever piece of Blue
Bell, gave a performance having a phenomenal " run " which has not been
equalled for grace and charm since the juvenile days of Miss Lydia
Thompson ; Mr. George Grossmith, junior, whom I have alluded to before
in well-deserved terms of appreciation ; Mr. Edward Payne, the worthy and
talented member of a respected family who were the greatest English panto-
mimists of the last half of the nineteenth century ; Miss Letty Lind, who was
regarded by Kate Vaughan as her one legitimate successor, and who left the
Gaiety to brighten Mr George Edwardes's Company at Daly's ; Miss
Lettice Fairfax, who has made a reputation as a comedienne, both in England
and America ; and Miss Rosie Boote, who left the Gaiety, to its loss, when
she became the Marchioness of Headfort.
( 76 )
From a Photo by Ellis & Walery.
MISS ETHEL SYDNEY,
From a Photo by Ellis & H'alery.
MR. LIONliL MONCKTON.
From a Photo by Ellis & Walery. Copyright.
MISS ROSIE BOOTE (MARCHIONESS OF HEAUFORT).
MY LAST MANIFESTO.
HE "Good Old Gaiety" has been carried on by two men
for nearly thirty-five years, a fact unequalled in theatrical
history. It has been, amongst many other things,
which some of its critics have remembered to forget, the
acknowledged home of advanced burlesque. Whether
burlesque is art, or art is burlesque, it is not necessary,
in this booklet, to attempt to determine. It is the most
costly, and the most troublesome form of dramatic entertainment that
any manager can select for his speciality. Its profits are precarious, and
its reputation is not much above the level of the poses plastiques. It is
licensed, as every other entertainment, high or low, is licensed. Any
theatre devoted to its performance is at once stamped as the " house of
call " for fools and idiots. Its stage is supposed to copy the manners and
morals of the vilest dens described in Pierce Egan's Life in London.
This is a lie, of course, and there is no other word for it. It sustained
the Olympic and the great genius of Robson ; the Haymarket, with
Buckstone and Webster, in the intervals of vulgar farce, Shakespeare, and
the Musical Glasses ; the Lyceum in the tasteful and impecunious days of
Charles Mathews and Madame Vestris ; the old Strand Theatre and the
new ; the Adelphi when Benjamin Webster was boxing the theatrical
compass; and even the St. James's, where "Jemmy" Rogers almost died
upon the stage in a burlesque by Mr. W. S. Gilbert.
The Gaiety burlesque, when first started, was simply old burlesque
writ large, and produced with elegance and completeness. It relieved the
monotony of the ill-paid labours of the critics or reporters, by providing
them with an undefeated cockshy. As an outcome of this critical survey
( 77 )
for more than a quarter of a century, the world has been enriched with
one word, " masher " not worth a tinker's blessing. No one knows the
origin of this word, nor is there much occasion to seek for information.
It has not even the rude force of Coster English. I wrote to Dr. Murray,
the great dictionary maker of Mill Hill, and he could throw no light upon
the subject. I have had to arrive at my own definition. The masher
of to-day is the statesman of to-morrow, and the bulk of the mashers
who graduated at the " Good Old Gaiety " are now helping to govern this
vast empire in every direction.
A few " vulgar errors " have to be dissipated in connection with the
" Good Old Gaiety." I was never Mr. Lionel Lawson's manager, and he
was never, as I have said before, in any sense, my "backer." I was his
tenant from the first, and paid my rent. He was always a good and
loyal friend. When he died he owed me .1,100, on adjustment of accounts,
which was punctually paid by the trustees.
The Gaiety was successful, and burlesque was never a failure. It was
sometimes a great success. I sold my interest in the theatre to Mr. George
Edwardes, to help to pay my debts debts incurred in outside theatrical
speculations. This was the result of being "practical," and being called
" Practical John." No one is more rejoiced at Mr. George Edwardes's
success than I am, as it shows that, given a certain amount of business
ability and organising powers one man is as good as another, and often
( 78 )
a /'/>/o /y- William Whittle?, Ltd.
MR. ADRIAN ROSS.
In compiling this little book I have to thank the London
Stereoscopic Co., Mr. Bassano, Messrs. Downey 6^ Son, William
Whiteley, the Successors of the late Samuel Walker, the Proprietors
of the "Entr'acte," " Vanity Fair," "Graphic," "Sporting and
Dramatic News" M. Nada (of Paris}, and Messrs. Sampson Low,
Mars ton 6 Co., for the use of Illustrations and Quotations from
my " Autobiography " and " Gaiety Chronicles."
( 79 )